A fascinating look at Nordic folk bands who make instruments from human bones

Originally published at: A fascinating look at Nordic folk bands who make instruments from human bones | Boing Boing


Oh, man. I saw Wardruna perform at a Faerieworlds festival here in Oregon a number of years ago, and while their music is quite powerful, their performance is… hard to describe, but ten times, a hundred times more powerful than just listening to them.

It wasn’t like a band at a concert playing a show for an audience. It was a spell they cast that brought worlds together and took us on a journey, at times beautiful and at times…

I am trying, but I find I honestly can’t put it into words. Let’s just say I met some beings from places beyond Midgard and Valkyries in particular are quite terrifying.


Heilung is absolutely one of my favorite bands. Before the pandemic, I was thinking about heading out to Red Rocks Ampitheater to catch them live, because holy shit, I want to see them live. If you haven’t watched their Castlefest show (mentioned in the article) go do it. It’s amazing.

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I’ma go out on a limb and say that GWAR is the American version of Wardruna.
what the hell smh GIF by GWAR


I just hope they don’t get milkshake duck’d as some kind of Viking White Supremacy front.

Yeah, this has been my fear. I haven’t read anything that suggested it was the case, but they’re kind of in the “sweet spot” of intersecting interests of Nordic white supremacists, so I feel rather nervous about liking these bands…


I mean… you’re joking? Yeah?

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Half joking!

I’m generalizing to WASPy white colonial America here and its mythology of Johnny Appleseed, Paul Bunyan, John Smith, and Xenu or whatever the Scientologists call their gods. GWAR mythology hits most of the same notes. It would be a very different story for any other subgroup in America.

My understanding is that yes, neo-Nazis love this stuff. Heilung at least has said “Um, no Nazis please, this music is for everyone” or something to that effect after a Black fan was attacked at one of their shows by racists.


It would be even better if the band had decided they didn’t want Nazis at their concerts before a Black fan had been attacked.

If you notice a lot of the people coming to your concerts are Nazis then maybe take a look at why that might be so you can address the problem.


But Gwar predates these guys by like several decades… Also, they don’t have any ties to more questionable bands like Gorgoroth.

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The Wardruna dude was in Gorgoroth, apparently. Not explicitly white power like Burzum, but certainly questionable to some degree in having fans that are into white power “nordic” bullshit.

At least some of them like Laibach, too.

This has been an ongoing problem since the late punk/early post punk days. Nazis would show up at Joy Division shows, thinking they were into white power because of the album imagery. They’d show up at Bad Brains shows (FFS!) and harass the fans/band.

In fact up to the rise of white power bands after Skrewdriver, the neo-nazis hung out at punk clubs and listened to lots of punk music. White power music was an off-shoot of both punk and oi!.


I am reminded of certain Dead Can Dance tunes.

according to the article, some of these musicians dislike the associations (despite the fact that they all seem to also have black metal music projects)

Of course they don’t appreciate that. It’s unfair to assume an association just because all Nordic musicians are assigned a black metal band the moment they start performing. /s

There’s a really good recording of a Heilung show “Lifa” on Youtube. It’s also up on Bandcamp, it’s great except that the finale is slightly undercut by the announcer coming in at the end to tell people they’ll need to leave quickly if they want to catch the last bus. This could’ve easily been cut off, so I don’t really get why they left it in unless they thought it’d be funny (in which case, fair enough).

As for nazis showing up at the concerts (if that happens, I don’t know)… I get the association but that’s really not the band’s fault. They start their performances off by saying
“Remember, that we all are 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”
and that doesn’t seem very nazi to me.

I have nothing good to say about this and normally when that happens I write a post and then delete it.

For me, Performative Nordic Spirituality has no more validity or credibility than any other Hokey Religion*. And although I don’t find this music disagreeable, I find all the spirituality horseshit that goes with it laughable.

This is the same Nordic nonsense that appealed to the original nazis so it should come as no surprise to anyone if it attracts modern-day white supremacists.

A fucking Blood Drum! Fuck off!

I originally just wanted to post, asking where they got the human bones to make their instruments so - Where did they get the human bones to make their instruments?

And did anyone ask the original owners of the bones would they y’know, mind?

*All religions are hokey. Some are more harmful than others obviously.

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I thought that was a clever pun on the word ‘limb’.

Y’know, bones an’ all…

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Exactly what I have done in this thread

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Awww go on!

Go for it!

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It was along the same lines a yours. About it being no surprise if Nazis show up because that’s the same stuff they are into, which doesn’t mean that the ones that are into that stuff are Nazis of course.


I am still mostly amused by fashy Laibach fans who don’t realise how much the band is laughing at them. Is Laibach the musical version of Poe’s Law?

The other problematic thing with the Viking folk not-metal bands, though, is their fondness for throat singing, which is not really a Nordic/Scandinavian thing. It’s appropriated from Inuit and Sami culture because it sounds “primal” and other things that raise questions about how one looks at the cultures one is swiping it from. And yes, other cultures like Mongolia also use throat singing, which is why I have no problem with The Hu. These bands sound more like Tanya Tagaq than The Hu.

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