Heilung, the Nordic experimental folk group based around a core trio of musicians from Norway (Maria Franz), Germany (Kai Uwe Faust), and Denmark (Christopher Juul) refers to their music as “amplified history” drawing from early medieval northern Europe. The band has been making a name for themselves in Europe for several years now with their unique performances, and the excitement at their absolutely packed, “how can this possibly comply with the fire codes?” show at the Fillmore Silver Spring outside of Washington, DC was palpable, even as the band was forced to take to the stage an hour later than scheduled due to the logistics of getting everybody in the door.
The band’s name means “healing” in German, and they refer to their performances as rituals. As if to drive that point home, the show began with the stage being smudged with smoke, followed by the group standing in a circle and leading the audience in a call-and-response chant:
“Remember that we all are brothers. All people, and beasts, and trees, and stone, and wind. We all descend from the one great being that was always there before people lived and named it, before the first seed sprouted.“
What followed may well have been the strangest and most compelling show to ever hit the Fillmore stage, a whirlwind of lights and fog, antlers and bones, spears and shields. As much a theatrical as a musical event, the tightly choreographed performance centered around the antlered vocal duo of Faust and Franz, but featured drums, warriors, and even a ritual “sacrifice.” With the lyrics primarily drawn from Viking and Iron Age texts, it’s likely that few if any in the crowd understood the words being sung. But regardless, the show still had an almost narrative flow to it. The audience was mesmerized.
Heilung’s performance almost defies further description, with words failing to do justice to the power of it. With such a successful run of shows, along with a very successful album (their second, Futha, debuted last year on no less than seven Billboard charts) and placement on TV (a Game of Thrones trailer and the show Vikings), a video game (the upcoming Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2), and, of all things, and Adidas commercial, we’re almost certain to be seeing more of them. It’s a show not to be missed.
Opening Ceremony In Maidjan Alfadhirhaiti Krigsgaldr Hakkerskaldyr