Huldre: Bringing the Folk to Denmark
Written by Brett Kihlmire
Keeping tradition alive through heavy metal, Huldre is a folk metal band from the sunny mountainsides of Denmark and have been playing their Nordic folk metal style since 2006.
Starting their journey over a decade ago, the band started out with Bjarne Kristiansen (bass), Nanna Barslev (vocals) and Laura Emilie Beck (Violin). Coming together with a shared love of Viking lore and culture, which they paid tribute through reenactments, the band would struggle to keep its footing as lineup changes plagued the band until 2009 when things stabilized with the coming of Lasse Olufson (guitar) and Jacob Lund (drums).
About a year after the lineup found solid ground and their sound was refined to their liking, Huldre released their debut 5-track demo under the name Huldre. Around this time they decided collectively that the band needed a “weird instruments kind of guy” leading to the recruitment of Troels Nørgaard (flute and hurdy-gurdy) in 2010.
“And as they say, the rest is history,” jokes Kristiansen, for the band hasn’t changed members since recruiting Nørgaard.
So where did the name come from? Well, it wouldn’t be a proper folk band without a name coming from the culture and mythology being honored in the music. Kristiansen explains:
“A Huldre is a creature in Scandinavian folklore that is known for, among other things, being a very beautiful woman with a hidden tail and a hollow back who would lure people, especially men, to their death in the bogs and forests. They are also known for demanding sex from said men, and if the men couldn’t deliver they would kill them,” he says. “In relation to music, the Huldres, and other similar creatures, were known to lure people into and under hills with music, dancing and partying and they were never seen again. So we figured that was an apt name for a band like ours. The music luring and partying part…not the other part.”
While folk metal is very popular in other Nordic countries and territories, Denmark isn’t as receptive as places such as Finland and Norway. As a result, the band has had its fair share of frustrations with the scene.
“One major one has probably been to take one the inherent disdain for anything deemed ‘silly’ by the ‘trve kvlt’ metalheads in this country. Denmark has never really embraced folk metal, so it’s still seen as something new, despite having had several waves in our neighboring countries,” Kristiansen explains.
Despite not finding as much early acceptance in Denmark as they might if they were from another Nordic nation, the band has had its fair share of victories and successes in its decade plus history. A few highlights include playing Copenhell’s second-largest stage twice, playing before several thousand Belgian metalheads unfamiliar with them at Trolls and Legends and receiving vast praise afterwards, and of course, winning the Danish run of the Wacken Metal Battle, taking third in the International run of Wacken Metal Battle and, of course, playing the famed festival itself. On top of all of that, the band has released two albums to critical acclaim.
Given their success on the world stage, Huldre plays live as much as possible. As a result, they’ve developed quite the live show, which includes dancing, moshing and even locally acquired trees for uniquely folkish touch. As well, a Huldre live show is the proving grounds for new music, so whenever one sees them live they might be hearing a new track even before it releases!
So what does Huldre have in store for the remainder of 2017? Well, they’ve already rocked Copenhell 2017 and there are certainly many more shows on the battle plan, but one thing Kristiansen emphasized is the fact the band is already writing album three. Hopefully there will be a new album for 2018. In the meantime, fans can look forward to plenty of live gigs and possibly a few more music videos too.