Words and Photos: Valerie Ryan
I didn’t need to guess the direction to the Heilung show at the Mark C. Smith Concert Hall; I simply followed the path of people donning antlers, fur, and face paint. While awaiting the venue to fill, the air resonated with howls and chants, creating a vibrant community of Viking enthusiasts. Who would have thought that there were followers of “experimental pagan Germanic & Scandinavian folk music from the distant past” in Huntsville? I certainly didn’t, but I find it exceptionally impressive.
Heilung refers to their performances as “rituals,” and it truly felt like one. During the commencement, you could hear a pin drop, interrupted only by a few disruptive cell phone ringtones. The atmosphere was serene, reminiscent of ASMR, with incense and sage purifying our spirits as we anticipated the music.
The ground beneath us quivered with the powerful yet enchanting beats in the pit. The frame drums, lurs, horns, and bowed lyres resonated, sending vibrations through my entire being. Lead vocalists Kae-Uwe Faust and Maria Franz captured our attention, their chilling chants melting our faces off. The entire production and the songs seamlessly weaved together, narrating a tale of Nordic heritage with exceptional finesse. It was an artistic masterpiece that stimulated all my senses, an intensely peaceful experience like no other. The visuals, sounds, and aromas were truly remarkable.
“Heilung” translates to “healing” in German, and I believe that for the attendees that night, it indeed lived up to its name. Typically, I feel drained after covering a show, but this time, I left feeling incredibly rejuvenated. I longed for more and indulged in their melodies during the hour-long drive home.
Let’s hope some of that cleansing sage drifted over to the neighboring room where GWAR performed a couple of nights earlier; it could certainly use it.
Kai Uwe Faust
HEILUNG’s ritual is neither a performance nor a concert; it is a fully immersive ceremony that
connects its listeners with the elements of nature through music, dance, and spirituality. For a
glimpse of what to expect at an evening with HEILUNG, watch ‘LIFA,’ which was recorded live at
Castlefest 2017, HERE.
Since its inception in 2015, the enigmatic ritual collective HEILUNG has been paving melodic paths to the past with their unique and mystifying sound. Evading all conventional genre tags and the confines of any specific labels, the group aptly self-describes their sound as “amplified history,” emphasizing their ability to connect modern society with the rudiments of humanity’s beginnings through music. HEILUNG once again journeys back in time with its new chapter, ‘Drif;’ however, unlike previous offerings that centered around prehistoric northern Europe, album number three will explore other great rudimentary civilizations outside of Europe.