The term Nordic folk has emerged to distinguish a series of bands that are directly connected to the revival of heathenry, the tradition of the Aesir and Venir, often focused on Nordic cultural identity and accurate history of pre-Christian Scandinavian countries. The term has a double usage in that it is a way to not say neofolk, which has the occasional baggage of costumed racists like Sol Invictus or Allerseelen. Drawing a distinction is especially important as white nationalists have staked their claim on heathenry, using pseudoscientific theories like “metagenetics” and misreadings of Carl Jung to argue that heathenry is a religion that is for people of Northern European descent only.
For the vast majority of heathens, particularly heathens outside of the U.S., this notion is absurd, and instead Asatru and heathen denominations across Nordic countries have been active in anti-racist campaigns and welcome a worldwide kindred. The neofolk duo Hindarfjäll comes from this tradition, using the traditional regional instruments and sounds of Norway and Sweden to revive a historical music that is tied directly to the earth. Started by vocalist Nils Edström in 2015, the project was inspired by bands like Wardruna in that they drove directly from a historical memory that centered an earthy pagan worldview.
Hindarfjäll is centered well in neofolk in both sound and practice, with each member filling multiple roles as they juggle a range of instruments from flutes to guitar to bassy percussion, all backed by looping chants. There is something haunting about the folk-inspired sound that comes out of the frigid woods, and Hindarfjäll feels like they are emerging with a sound meant to capture a life guided more by the cycles of nature than the modern travails of politics and conflict. Each track feels precisely laid, patient and haunting, acting as a reminder of a life that once existed and could again. This may be why the bands in the Nordic folk scene have been so centered on history, particularly the accuracy of it, because of the misappropriation the far-right has made of their cultural legacy.
Hindarfjäll is new on the scene and has yet to put out a full-length album, and has instead been releasing demos that sound like they could have been birthed by a dozen musicians syncing for a decade. With the very brief coverage they have had, they have used it to make a public statement about what they stand for. Before playing their first live show in 2016 at The Asgardian, they wanted to make clear that they reject any element of the racialist pagan movement.
I want to add is that I think that racism is a very important subject because Asatru and the music we play attracts a lot of idiots unfortunately. Such as nazis and racists, I think that’s unacceptable. Hindarfjäll does NOT tolerate such things. We take a stand against hatred and racism.
The Asgardian was put together by Asatru UK, a heathen association that prohibits racism in their organization. “Asatru UK is an organisation that abhors all forms of discrimination and racism in Heathenry, and though it is sad to say – these views ARE still out there. For the good of our members and the community we are creating, we do have to have some measures in place to keep that community hate free.”
We are jumping the gun a bit to include Hindarfjäll since they only have a few public recorded tracks and have yet to release their full length album, but we were blown away and wanted them in the mix early. We are putting some tracks below from Bandcamp and YouTube, but unfortunately they are not on Spotify yet and cannot be added to the playlist.