Heilung – Gig Review & Photo Gallery 4th March @ Forum, Melb VIC

Forum, Melbourne VIC
March 4, 2023

Heilung contains sounds, that consciously aim to alter your state of mind.

This articulate description of the Pagan neo-folk outfit known as Heilung is actually found in the liner notes of their re-released debut LP Ofnir through Season Of Mist in 2018. After five long years, a pandemic, the issuing of two more albums entitled: Futha (2019) and Drif (2022) as well as in all probability, countless wishes to the spiritual world to have this amplified history collective venture to the southern hemisphere; our yearning was finally answered. With both shows selling out rapidly and then a second Melbourne performance also achieving the same status, the enigmatic ritual group were finally here to offer their ‘healing’ to Australia; their elixir vitae of sound would finally alter our state of mind, being and invigorate our souls.

The aforementioned term “ritual” is one that requires the readers’ attention – what Heilung actually deliver with their performance is not a “concert” but a ritual, or a “ceremony”. Upon first look at the proscenium and stage area of The Forum venue, it had undergone an elaborate transformation; spotlights on the walls and ceiling of the outfit’s “Warrior Snail” symbol enriched the ethereal element, while the blue haze emitted from the canopy provided an open-air feel. If one were to overlook the modern components of the locale, focussing upon only the historic instruments, spears and ancient frame drums, it would have been simple to imagine that time travel had occurred.

The room darkened faintly, providing a calm over the restless energy that was bustling through the audience, then a sudden explosive drum hit jolted all inside to attention, with even fearful shrieks from devotees acknowledging their consciousness. The ritual had begun, a smoke ceremony of sorts was presented that incorporated a welcome blessing to each member of the collective as they emerged onto the stage. Thousands inside the venue were silenced as the backing soundtrack of birds chirping seemingly stopped not only time, but the Earth for a moment. The eerie and magnetic immersion was incalculable.

Remember, that we are all brothers. All people, beasts, trees and stone and wind. We all descend from the one great being. That was always there. Before people lived and named it. Before the first seed sprouted.” This quotation also exists in the liner notes of Ofnir and it was interpreted and proclaimed on this night as the introduction intensified by the blowing of a traditional horn; what followed was an entrancing enactment of historical magnificence and it is near impossible to illustrate with words alone.

The tenacity of the percussion throughout the entire ritual was thunderous, the ground seemed to shake with every hammering of the ancient frame drums to a jarring effect, forcing attendees to either freeze in awe or amazement, or move in a spiritual daze. The “Kulning” call felt otherworldly, a howl encouraged the audience to respond as if they were wolves of the same pack and within moments the stage was filled with musician warriors, equipped with spears and shields and ancient instruments whether constructed from bones or flora. This could have been a celebration or a war cry – in a sense it was both.

‘Alfadhirhaiti’ brought upon a bewitching energy that recalled northern European bronze/iron age and Viking times, with Kai Uwe Faust’s throat singing and screams roaring with an intensity that was beyond human. ‘Kriegsgaldr’ illuminated Maria Franz’s rapturous voice as if she was calling upon spirits from ancient times and they were listening and answering. This was excellently embellished with ‘Anoana’ where the audience responded to “Aelwao” with the chant “Anoana Tuwatuwa” – the vivacity was inexpressible but undoubtedly sensational on multiple levels. Soon there was to be a stage dive and crowd surfers, which although surprising was also how the energy guided those who were witness to this remarkable exhibition.

It should be articulated that although Heilung is known as Kai Uwe Faust, Maria Franz and their conductor Christopher Juul – their tribe is far more expansive. Multiple percussionists, musical warriors and dancers coated in body and face paint, numerous wearing the antlers inspirited the stage; spinning, jumping, howling and amazingly altering space and time. It was euphorically hypnotic and those who were watchers of the experience had their minds altered to a brighter echelon.

Heilung links. It links the listener to an ancient mind-set and it links people.”

This is one of the final statements in the prior discussed liner notes and a befitting statement to conclude this piece.

Gig Review by Will Oakeshott @TeenWolfWill

Revisit our interview with Heilung here

Photo Gallery by Clinton Hatfield. Insta: @ampd.agency
Please credit Wall of Sound and Clinton Hatfield if you repost photos.


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About Will Oakeshott (58 Articles)
Funny bloke, writer, Journalist, Vocalist, bit of acting, music, comedy and dad joke lover. Love: music, beer, bodyboarding, movies, books.