Album Review: Heilung - Futha
Genre: Amplified History / Neofolk / Experimental Folk
Review by Karl O’Shea
After three years in the making, Danish pagan folk act Heilung have released their sophomore album Futha. Constructed using old Icelandic poetry and some truly original instrumentation, Futha is intended as a feminine counterpart to their debut album Ofnir and a celebration of, in their own words, “the great healing power of the female wild strength”.
Futha is an album that rewards effort. The more you’re willing to explore the concepts behind their sound and learn about their inspirations, the more you’ll gain. That being said, there’s plenty of reward to be found alone in the sound world that Heilung create and this is an album that is best heard in one sitting. The word “journey” is probably the most apt way to describe these 9 tracks. Songs flow into each other and you feel like you’ve been transported to a different time and place where you’re an aural witness to rituals that feel alien and unknowable but are incredibly hypnotic.
What Heilung attempt to do is channel the sounds of the Northern European Iron Age and the time of the vikings. They accomplish this using field recordings, ambient synths, drums with varying different skins, bones, bells, whistles, rattles and all manner of odd percussive instrumentation. The vocals range from beautiful female singing to ecstatic cries, throat singing, shrieking and whispers. All creating the effect of listening to a hypnotic incantation or a sacred ritual. A song can start as spoken word poetry then lead into quiet tranquil sounds until they build into almost tribal-like drumming and mantra like vocal lines that is quite intoxicating.
This is definitely not music for everyone. Although coming across as quite impenetrable, the more you listen, the more you’re drawn in. Futha is an album that rewards a listener who takes the time and it’s a journey worth taking. If you love Dead Can Dance or the more experimental end of the neofolk/dark-folk scene, you’ll find plenty to love here.
“Futha” is out now via Season of Mist.