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The album starts with a low growl, building into the menace that becomes "Tass'on Nainen," and you're into the world of Hedningarna, where traditional Swedish instrumentation (and the vocals of Sanna Kurki-Suonio and Tellu Paulasto) meet studio electronics. As dark as anything produced by a goth band, it's a startling record that's pushed the Nordic sound to world music's cutting edge. The fiddles distort evilly; programmed beats blend with a frame drum. While Hedningarna mine territory that other Swedish bands such as Garmarna do, the sound on this record is their own, full and wild and a studio creation that never sounds overproduced. When the guitar cuts loose at the end of "SaglaTen," it becomes obvious that this is really the new and glorious sound of folk-rock, '90s style. The guest joiking by Wimme on "Tuuli" only serves to make the album even more otherworldly, but a passport isn't required. --Chris Nickson
Top customer reviews
Hedningarna brings together ancient and modern in a way few bands do. The music is raw, ecstatic, and primal, drawing heavily from Finnish and Lappish traditions. The beat lulls you into a trance and soon all you can do is LISTEN.
There are few other bands out there that are even in the same league (Gjallarhorn is, and Varttina might be). My favorite song oddly is the first one: Täss'on Nainen which is a slowly crescendoing chant. Other songs however bring in deep fiddling traditions from the area, and they sing in a variety of languages.
Highly, highly recommended.
The harmonies produced by the two Finnish vocalists are strident and jarring -- and excruciatingly beautiful and evocative. The instruments are combined to produce a power as moving as anything I've ever heard in electric music -- to think that they're doing most of this in an acoustic setting is impressive, to say the least. The lyrics, of course, are all in Swedish (perhaps some Saami and Finnish) -- but their emotional power is not lost at the language barrier.
There is both darkness and light at work here -- blending and whirling together into a product that should appeal to anyone who enjoys adventurous, honest and energetic music. The group's later album, HIPPJOKK, features the three men without the women, and their latest, KARELIA VISA, sees the return to the fold of Sanna, along with vocalist Anita Lehtola. All of their work is of the highest quality -- interesting, entertaining, and stretching.
The women sing witchily, but in tune, except for some deliberate moments of vocal gymnastics.For example, you'll catch them panting like tiring animals.And despite their singing being in Finnish tongue, the music's overall feel is more notably Swedish.And though the Swedish men sing on a couple of tracks (and howl like wolves, successfully enough), their expertise lay in the pin-point accuracy of their instrumental pursuits.They innovatively pulse electricity into their traditional instruments.Bagpipes, hurdygurdies, zithers and primitive drums are already quite course even without such treatment.The modern drums on the album are used tactfully, as are most studio embelishements.Though, I think their electric guitar usage was better left absent.The skin of this music is modern, but the skeleton is ancient.Upbeat and downbeat tunes share the load.This art is quite aggressive, but always poetic and tuneful.The female singers bring in such sensitivity, considering the lyrical content.The themes are set in nature, with assorted creatures.Humans are often involved thru their spells and evils.'Lust' is a recurrent sin here.But Hedningarna address such things with respect and good judgement.Only rarely is there a semblance of gratuity.
Warning to teddy bears! If you're going out in the woods today to have your picnic ...don't choose these woods!