Danish experimental folk-metal outfit Heilung are back with yet another dizzying invocation of the old gods in the form of their new song "Othan."
Minimal in its attack, the track sets its sights on stirring up ancient ghosts with its extended slow-building fury. The mood only lightens around the 90 second mark, when a chorus of ethereal voices chimes in with a repeating, hypnotic chant. Gradually becoming ever more expansive and consuming, the intensity reaches fever pitch until a solo voice flies out from the pack and into the forefront, gouging the listener with a gorgeously wrought but elated prayer call.
As the 10-minute track weaves and spins through various ritualistic movements, it's easy to let the mind wander into the true purpose of the composition. "'Othan' is one of the compositions that, in a Heilung context, might appear as a relaxed song," vocalist Maria Franz explained to Roadburn, who premiered the track today (April 30th). She continues, "Nevertheless, it contains ancient combat protection spells and Odin, the highest northern god, appears as the lord of war." The singer goes on to break down individual parts and their origin, from various hard-to-translate spells from the seventh century to the "wolfish, barking mantra" in which the band name "the highest Nordic god."