Kai Uwe Faust really put in the legwork to get his growls to stand out on Heilung’s new record, Futha, dropping June 28 through Season of Mist. The album was made to be the more feminine counterpoint to Ofnir, with lyrics based off of old Icelandic poetry that was chanted by women casting spells.
Futha also sees the band take more of a texture-based approach. The chants are still pretty engaging and otherworldly, but they’re less melodic than a lot of material seen before. “Norupo” does call back some of that familiar energy but ends again with Faust growling and aggressively rolling his Rs, which carries into the following track, “Othan” before the melodic chanting begins.
“Svanrand” is another standout track, as well as the closing track “Hamrer Hippyer”, especially after the first minute or so. “Elddansurin” sounds a lot like the ooga-chackas from the beginning of “Hooked on a Feeling,” and I think that a lot of the initial goofiness that comes off of the songs on the album would be helped by understanding what is being spoken, which is unfortunately beyond my expertise.
Futha took a while to grow on me. There are a lot of elements that at first glance feel a bit goofy, but after a few listens and having a chance to take in all the texture and ambience it’s really grown on me. Heilung’s brand of neofolk has always been a bit nonstandard, so it shouldn’t be surprising to see their style drift further from conventional sound. Heilung is also fairly new as a band, with Futha being their second studio record, so Futha may be the record that marks the hallmark of a signature Heilung sound. What I do appreciate is that Maria Franz’s voice has been given a lot more spotlighting on this album, and her ethereal voice really lends to the success of the ambience on this record. Recommended.