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

The Guardian has a great new article on the rise of "dark Nordic folk" — modern bands that take a more shamanistic approach to their instrumentation, subject matter, and performance.

Mostly, I'm sharing it here because "The drum needed a blood sacrifice" is a badass title — for a band, but especially for a piece of journalism. And because that provocative is a cool entry into looking at some traditional indigenous folk art in new ways. Here's an excerpt:

In 2002, holed up in an attic studio on the majestic Norwegian coast, Einar Selvik had a vision. He would create a trilogy of albums based on the 24 runes of the Elder Futhark, the world's oldest runic alphabet. The multi-instrumentalist's epiphany kicked off what is now one of the world's most vibrant underground music scenes.

Calling on vocalists Lindy-Fay Hella and Gaahl, with whom Selvik had played in black metal band Gorgoroth, he created the band Wardruna and the first instalment of the trilogy arrived in 2009. It was called Runaljod: Gap Var Ginnunga (Sound of Runes: The Gap Was Vast) and had taken seven years to research, write and record. Each song told a story behind Nordic culture and traditions, via dark and ambient folk, played on ancient string and horn instruments, as well as animal hide drums.

The connection to nature is palpable: melodies are overlaid with the sounds of gurgling water, howling wind and crackling fire. When recording Laukr, named after the rune for water, Selvik delivered his vocals while standing submerged in a river. Meanwhile, the recording sessions for the band's new album, Kvitravn (White Raven), took place in forests and on burial mounds.

I would say that's fucking metal, except it's not at all — and, 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). I just hope they don't get milkshake duck'd as some kind of Viking White Supremacy front.

'The drum needed a blood sacrifice': the rise of dark Nordic folk [Dannii Leivers / The Guardian]