The comforts of my solitude and slumber was suddenly interrupted, welcomely after months of waiting, by the call of the Valkyries, hence the ravens of Odin guided me not to the tall glorious door to Valhalla, but the Roman inspired architecture of The Forum. Tall branches and exotic decoration adorned the stage as the auditorium was bustling with a heavily varied arrangement of character, from patrons fashioning their quintessential metal black, to individuals going above and beyond for the show dressed in old cotton garbs, headpieces, masks, even painted with impressive bodily artwork. I expected nothing less for the first visit down under by the titans of amplified history, Heilung
Right after a touching and well needed acknowledgment to the sacred indigenous land we stand on, we were greeted by Kai Uwe Faust, wielding a burning incense in which its sparks were blown onto all the equipment and microphones, concluding with the audience, as if to give the venue a blessing prior to the experience we were about to have. He was later joined by none other than Maria Franz, both donning their iconic antler headpieces, along with a fierce, incomparably talented ensemble that all gathered in circle to perform an opening ceremony before the show commenced.
What followed after was 2 hours ritualistic, spiritual form of expression and storytelling that caused my mouth to remain wide open for the entirety of the show. The grim chants and steady, unrelenting beat of the tune In Maidjan was a perfect introduction. Kai’s flawless throat singing and Maria’s vocal range of a siren constantly sent ice cold shivers up and down my body, not to mention the accompanying instrumentalists and stage performers who transformed the modern world at that moment into a glimpse of medieval pagan culture. Alfadhirhaiti…..you truly need to listen to this track itself in order to fully appreciate the monstrous power behind it. The call and response chanting of the spear/shield wielding warriors fuelled a primal warrior instinct within me that made me wish to storm and pillage the shores of England and Francia.
One aspect of this show that really stood out me was the expression of wild foundation of human nature, conveying the true independence of the human body and soul devoid of rules and guide lines delivered through a perfect amplification of our history through Scandinavian and Germanic culture. For this was a culture that did not discriminate or promote prejudice, for both men and women of the times shared all when it came to duty, sexuality, and spiritualism. Women bore their naked chests displaying their strength as much as men did. Women rode along men in battle. Men embraced activities that throughout recent history would be seen as “feminine”. This was both touching and liberating. This stunningly undomesticated spiritual awakening also captivated every soul in the ordinance to the point of almost acting like Germanic warriors at a feast. Hell, at one point I let out an animalistic scream that I never though could leave my thin body!
Throughout this performance we were taken through many intense tales of pagan culture. With a handful and warriors thrashing the bottom of their spears in rhythm whilst chanting promoted the ferocity of battle, Druid-like characters performing animalistic rituals and ceremonies, and the use of such unique ancient languages in their lyrics taken from the stones such as Eggja. One aspect of history they heavily display is the band of warriors themselves, in which the band recites this specifically from the writings of Tacitus whom scribed the tales of the Warriors, named the Harii, painted in black to cause chaos attacking their foes at night. The entire idea of Heilung is for them to to demonstrate a beautifully wild and almost forgotten culture in history to the modern eye, and this unforgettable performance demonstrates this flawlessly.
The show concluded with what I can only describe as a full on pagan rave, as all the performers built up a monstrous 10 minute track to what I could only interpret as a celebratory ritual. The percussionists thrashed their drums in perfect rhythm, the vocalists chanted excitedly, and the ensemble performers danced in such a captivating frantic way that pumped the sold out venue with non stop energy. The Warriors themselves couldn’t help but grin though the ballet as us audience members clapped and jumped along to this wholesome conclusion. The historic party ended with a final ceremony, both mimicking but responding the the opening, before these unforgettable characters gracefully exited the stage.
And thus I remain, 1 hour after the finale, beer in hand at my local pub, but not ever drifting from the ongoing buzz I felt which was so strong it drown out the entire rowdiness and music around me. I do not think any words I write can do justice the magic I had just witnessed. Heilung had brought to me an art that I only now have become to fully appreciate and awaken to, and I truly hope that this band, and everything they represent, will continue to prosper for years on end.