Heilung - Ofnir
Season Of Mist
Neo-Pagan Folk
9 songs (71'51")
Release year: 2018
Season Of Mist
Reviewed by Alex

I was certainly mentally bribed by the description of Danish Heilung debut Ofnir. To pay tribute to their Viking/Scandinavian origin by employing some unusual instruments (running water through human bones??) and provide visuals in the live show (something I obviously wasn’t able to see) was something I thought would be interesting to come in contact with.

No question, throughout it all Ofnir breathes neo-pagan atmosphere. I emphasize NEO, however, since for all their ethnic sounds (Alfadhirhaiti), there is certainly the feeling that drumming, although advertised to be on some unusual medieval drums, comes as if from a modern drum machine. Filling in the gaps with synth, and there is certainly a feeling of modern mechanistic darkwave in competition with prehistoric natural sounds. There is certainly a tribal chant of Hakkerskaldyr, rain recording in Schlammschlacht, wind chimes opening Carpathian Forest and some shaker percussion quaking Fylgija Ear for minutes. But you can’t tell me Krigsgaldr doesn’t have clicking mechanical noises, the quickening heart beat at the end of Carpathian Forest, and the whole rhythmic patterns of Alfadhirhaiti or Fylgija Ear aren’t machine, not human, driven. Or maybe Heilung musicians are that precise.

Vocally Heilung have lots to say, and they use different voices to do so throughout. There is a lot of shamanistic croaking (Alfadhirhaiti, Fylgija Ear), but a female seductress with a beautiful voice is also present (Krigsgaldr, Fylgija Ear). Probably a must in a darker ominous ceremony, and the feeling of ancient overbearing dread hangs over many a composition here (Fylgija Ear). At the same time Heilung preach. There is an angry Dane spewing vile with a rhythmic darkness behind him (Futhorck), an evil German whispering to just as dark a background (Afhomon), and something bordering on exalted propaganda story in a radio speech (I seriously wish I could understand German since some words in Schlammschlacht give me pause).

Ofnir then didn’t sweep me off my feet, nor did I hate it. The goal here is to mesmerize and hypnotize, and you can certainly drift to Fylgija Ear even with its minutes long pregnant pauses or Native American themed 2-part In Maidjan. At the same time, the overpromise of authenticity probably made me notice the modernity of sound in the album a little too much, and I kept perceiving plastic artificial moments, so for this style of music I much prefer Wardruna. I was prepared to give Ofnir a solid 60+, accepting the length of Futhorck, thinking this is a logical culmination end, so when In Maidjan and Afhomon continued with their double digit min drags, the album started feeling almost endless, thus lowering the score. Longer certainly did not mean better for Heilung for me. Perhaps attending a live show, or listening to Ofnir while watching a DVD would elevate the experience.

Killing Songs :
Krigsgaldr, Fylgija Ear
Alex quoted 62 / 100
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