Majestic symbiosis of music and Nordic traditions on Midgardsblot
“West over water I fared
bearing poetry's waves to the shore
of the war-god's heart;
my course was set.
I launched my oaken craft
at the breaking of ice,
loaded my cargo of praise
aboard my longboat aft.”
Vikings… There is so much overarching meaning in this world that strikes a deep chord within us each time we hear it. For some of us it associates an open sea and brave men challenging the natural forces in the urge of exploration. Some will think about horned helmets, blood eagles, and grizzled barbarians raiding and pillaging their way across the seven seas. And some will remember Norse myths and legends which tell stories about ancient gods and noble men, their feats and battles, and unity with nature and habitat. Over the past years, viking culture is experiencing a sort of revival, strengthening its positions in almost every aspect of everyday life. But moreover, viking culture is being widely popularized through infinite variety of modern mass media sources which helps it to occupy a rightful place among the most influential social phenomenons of world heritage. It can be found in literature and comics, television shows and animations, video games and anime. The characters of Norse myths became an inseparable part of the surrounding world, no less recognizable than other products of modern society. And of course, music in its different guises couldn't avoid this part of human history.
Undoubtedly, one of the first introductions of viking cultural heritage into music was made by Richard Wagner with his “Der Ring des Nibelungen”, a quintessence of strength and glory in highest display. But since then, almost full monopoly over usage of Nordic and pagan rhetoric belongs to the experimental genre in the form of various types of metal, industrial and modern folk genres. The influence of these types of musical arts can’t be underestimated; millions of devoted fans all over the world cultivate the same values without referral to a specific gender, descent or social-economic condition. Indeed, the multiculturalism of music is an important part of such popularity, but the recent globalization made it even easier for people to meet and share the same interests. Music festivals are a great opportunity for that, and they are taking place in almost every spot on planet Earth. Waken, Inferno, Metaldays, Brutal Assault and many more became pilgrimage sites for thousands of people from all over the globe. But in the place, where music and old traditions merge together, something bigger finds a fertile soil to grow on. One big family emerges in such a place, bound by love for the culture that survived through the ages of persecutions. Thus emerges Midgardsblot.
Taking place on the burial ground of the greatest viking kings in Horten, Norway, Midgardsblot couldn’t wish for a better location. Each year this festival unites brothers and sisters to celebrate the ancient Blot, the ritual dedicated to the glory of ancient gods which is held to the sounds of the biggest names on the scene paying tribute to the roots of their land. Among the many famous names, I should highlight a mighty Enslaved, pagan enthusiasts Heilung, american death-metallers Deicide and many more. But besides a metal background, the festival has a good tradition to include certain noble gentlemen hailing from a more abstract side of a musical art.
Like in all the previous festivals, dark ambient curator Jan Roger Pettersen prepared a strong line-up that surely will be able to open the gate to another dimension. First of all, I would like to mention the Sweden based mega-project Raison D’etre and his mastermind Peter Andersson. Without a doubt Peter inscribed his name in history releasing countless, highly-praised records with inexhaustible productivity. Keeping the bar of creativity high for almost thirty years, Raison D’etre certainly is a precious gem of the whole festival.
The next and no less important comrade arrives from France and carries the sonorous name Treha Sektori. Behind this project is a famous graphic designer and art director Dehn Sora (Vincent Petitjean) whose obscure, yet astonishing in its obscurity, art has become widely recognized for many fans of dark music. Indeed, today it is an honor for any band on the scene to have its album art decorated by Dehn Sora; and this kind of creativity is being projected into the sound of Treha Sektori as well. Invoking cold images of decimation and destruction of the world around, futility of every human effort and the fleetingness existence, Treha Sektori drags the listener beyond the edge of the material world and into the realms of long forgotten gods.
And of course, the last, but not least, is the local legend that since 1999 managed to establish himself as the leading force on the world's dark ambient scene, but his contribution to the development spreads far beyond this genre. Jan Roger Pettersen, the man behind mighty Svartsinn and the curator of the festival, creates highly-cinematic soundscapes with an unstoppable passion playing with the visions that balance between the conscious and unconscious. His performance at Midgarsblot alongside a cello played by Amund Ulvestad will provide special charm, adding an aura of enchantment and sophistication.
Lastly, to say that I am excited to return to this festival after two years is to say nothing. A great natural surrounding and a wonderful atmosphere of the festival make Midgardsblot one of the most important and impressive events. Besides the viking camp full of stalls of traditional artists and artisans and of course the music venues, the unique program of the festival includes discussions, masterclasses and lectures that give a perspective on Nordic history and traditions.
No more words! Family is calling! To Midgardsblot and beyond!
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance
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