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Hedningarna — Karelia Visa
(NorthSide NSD6025, 1998, CD)
by Mike McLatchey, Published 1999-11-01
The Heathens’ fifth album continues their vivid interpretation of Scandinavian folk delivered with a contemporary edge, yet without betraying the deep antiquity of its musical roots. The band’s focus on their newest album is the Finnish region of Karelia, one that is now politically part of Russia. Perhaps this rarely heard from corner of the world is responsible for the slight change in sound, one possibly more traditionally oriented and having less of a modern gloss than Hippjokk. The Swedish trio of multi-instrumentalists that make up the core of Hedningarna are augmented by Finnish vocalist Sanna Kurki-Suonio (last heard on Trå) and Loituma’s Anita Lehtola whose incredible voices electrify the sound and, over the course of ten tracks, bring new meaning to the word melody. Each song has its own drone, created each time by a new combination of instruments by the trio, the lyrics sung with passion over the often rhythmic music. Each song has its own wiles, and some bring the familiarity of folk, others the territory of mythology and the ritual. Needless to say, this group of incredibly talented musicians and vocalists continue to make every album a different vibe, and each time they succeed. Standouts are “What Do I Sing,” the plaintive “Thunder God,” the joyful “Forest Maiden,” and finally “Song Polska.” Karelia Visa is an addicting album; you'll find yourself lured in again and again.
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