“Sons of Northern Darkness”: Heathen Influences in Black Metal and Neofolk Music1

In: Numen
Kennet Granholm Department of History of Religions, Stockholm University SE-10691 Stockholm Sweden, Email:

Search for other papers by Kennet Granholm in
Current site
Google Scholar
Download Citation Get Permissions

Access options

Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.

Institutional Login

Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials

Login via Institution


Buy instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):



The focus of this article is on the influence of heathenism on popular music, specifically on Black Metal and Neofolk. These two genres, or more correctly scenes, are converging — something which is interesting in itself as purely musical similarities are nonexistent. Both scenes are permeated by heathen notions, and have the ability to function as “cultural systems” providing sets of ideology, meanings, and practices for their adherents. Thus, they comprise more than simply “musical styles.” The appeal of heathenism in these scenes can be explained by its status as non-mainstream exotic rejected knowledge, which makes it attractive in the quest for authenticity and rebellion inherent in rock music. At the same time it is precisely the inclusion of heathen elements which provides the possibility to construct meaning systems that can sustain a coherent cultural complex.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 2210 399 37
Full Text Views 476 22 0
PDF Views & Downloads 490 38 0