The world ensemble transcend genres and cement themselves as a premier act to strive for.
Words, Photos by Ekaterina Gorbacheva (@ekaterinagorbacheva.art) at the
Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on September 27, 2022:
Stadium performing artists may have the budget to deliver illustrious shows with elaborate screens and pyrotechnics, but they don't always come off as honest, soulful showings yielding from true artistic integrity. It's here that folk laden world music group Heilung thrive as one unified collective true to their craft. With 2022 seeing the release of their new album, Drif, via Season of Mist, there's much to celebrate and the thousands in attendance at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles harnessed a towering event that made great use of ambience, lighting, a multitude of performers in sync, and of course, an expansive musical palette.
Following a profound opening ceremony free of phones and other distractions, the Heilung experience began with In Maidjan. It's clear early on that this is more than a one way street, more than an artist performing to a paying audience but a conversation instead. The group built off the enthusiastic response and welcomed united chants, hand waves, and more, all as the Greek Theatre became one giant commune.
Frontwoman Maria Franz continued with an ethereal solo performance that drew a gaze of wonder among many concertgoers who stood in awe at her voice, which is arguably among the most unique in music today. Staples from Futha (2019) and Ofnir (2015) rotated from one to the next, looking back a pivotal time in Heilung's fast-rising ascent. There's no question as to why projects like the upcoming Hellblade II: Senua's Saga video game and The Northman film have associated themselves with Heilung's accessible output.
Symbolic regalia, elegant headdresses, battle ready soldiers, and more graced the stage for a visual feat as elaborate as the compositions unfolding. Melodies soared and yesteryear's instrumentation shined bright once more as Heilung breathe new life to past traditions for a modern age. Beyond the primitive elements, producer and founding member Christopher Juul's electronic sensibilities are then layered in with ease and expand upon an already meticulous approach to musical development. Add Kai Uwe Faust's intentionality and you get one comprehensive endeavor of many timelines, cultures, religious practices, and more.
Few times will you find a musical performance of the caliber of Heilung, who have not just earned a special place in the heart of the metal community over the years, but the world at large, for what they deliver is an escape from the turmoil of our daily surroundings. It's a grounding occasion to say the least, one that astounds and puts one at ease among a united crowd. Stateside appearances have since concluded, but whenever Heilung return, a keen American audience await for another fruitful encounter with amplified history, ourselves included. Until then, we reminisce of the soaring glory that radiated from the Greek Theatre stage that evening.
Enjoy a photo gallery of the ritual below and experience Drif (Stream/Order).