Skáld (Ääniwalli, Helsinki) – 17/10/2022

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Folk that harks back to the olden days and somehow connects you with something that lives deep inside you, a connection with nature and your ancestors, is something that has been somewhat of an obsession of mine for probably about 15 years. The fact that through popular acts like Wardruna and Heilung, popular series like ‘Vikings’ and even games, this kind of “pagan folk” is starting to become somewhat more popular and more commonplace is something I can only celebrate. Because it means that there is a bigger chance that bands and artists that make this kind of music are coming to a stage near me. Case in point: the French collective Skáld was on tour through Europe and made it all the way to the Finnish shores. No way I would miss this, so off I went to Ääniwalli, looking forward to a great night of folk music and connecting with that something deep in my core.

Guilhem Desq

To get the rather chilly venue somewhat warmed up for the main act, the French hurdy-gurdy virtuoso Guilhem Desq came along with the group of French vikings. I’ve seen plenty of skilled hurdy-gurdy players ever since I got into folk and folk metal, but this guy was something else! The way he played his gorgeous dragon headed instrument was mesmerizing, and he managed to get sounds out of this ancient instrument that I didn’t expect to hear to come from it. Enhanced by some electronic effects here and there and drums controlled by his feet, he enthralled the whole room with driving songs that flowed from slower and emotive to fast and dance-inducing. The way he managed to get the crowd dancing already this early, all on his lonesome, strongly reminded me of one of my favorite blues artists, Ash Grunwald. There is just a certain energy there and an obvious talent for music that you simply can’t help yourself but fall in love with what you see and hear.


And then it was time for the main event of the night, by now the room had filled up pretty nicely and the stage, crammed full of all kinds of instruments that looked like they came from the era where Celts, Vikings and other similar civilizations were thriving, was bathing in smoke. And then the magic began, with a long-haired, bearded Viking-looking guy right in my face, drumming away and whipping his hair around, immediately bringing a ritualistic and driving atmosphere into the room. If the opening act was mesmerizing us all, this group of people absolutely put a spell on us. Playing different shapes and sizes of percussion instruments, string instruments, horns and so on, singing enchanting words in for instance Old Norse, going from shouting to melodic harmonizing with a combination of male and female vocals, it was an absolute feast and treat to behold if you were any bit into this kind of music. It was so easy to forget that we were all gathered in the cold, industrial looking venue that is Ääniwalli, taking us on a magical trip to other realms. I was kind of surprised to see a completely different person singing the female lines that who I expected, but she definitely fulfilled her role to perfection and really fits with the rest of the guys. The set was a great collection of their work, including some taste of the new stuff that is coming. This was an absolutely magical night, and Skáld can’t come back soon enough!


Heiemo og Nykkjen
Villeman Og Magnhild
Ó Valhalla
Þistill Mistill Kistill
Þat Mælti Mín Móðir
Troll Kalla Mik

Öll of rök fira

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