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Chris Wicked - Northern Heart (Raven Black Recordings)

17 June 2024

I guess that I should have expected as much, given the song title, the label name, and even the artist’s chosen moniker, but there is something primal, arcane and perhaps even menacing about “Northern Heart.” It echoes with the sound of an earlier time, an ancient sound channelled through a modern one, one that we might now call merely folk music but which would have once been important, vital, sacred even.

So many bands claim to channel ancient wisdom and pagan influences and often pronounce that their music taps into an older, other world. Still, the results are more often akin to the cliche and caricature of something like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or Dungeons & Dragons than anything tangible or authentic.

Here, though, there is a tribal pulse that drives the song, a spaciousness within the structure, one that allows the chill blast of Kari’s winds to blow right through its heart; there is a repetitious quality to its lyrics that borders on ritualistic, and a hollow wall of sonics ebbs and flows between anthemic crescendo and lulling lows.

Although Chris Wicked comes from a more bombastic, hard rock background, he boils the identity of his homeland, Norway, down to its very essence, a sound which is chilled, breathtaking, peaceful, dangerous, and serene all at the same time. Some will see this as a bridge between the intensity of metal and the longevity of folk music, but it is more than that; it is nothing less than a window into a forgotten past. I’m not saying the past sounded like this, but I suspect in this song holds the essence of what it felt like.