The Wild Hunt of Odin

Peter Nicolai Arbo
2 min
Year: 1872


(Music) Bathory “Oden’s Ride Over Nordland” 


Throughout history, myths and legends have been important sources of inspiration for painters, authors and composers. According to traditional folk beliefs, the Wild Hunt was a noisy throng of souls of the dead, murderers, criminals, ‘loose women’, drunks, trolls and all kinds of supernatural beings, which gathered to race through the air at Christmas time for the purpose of gathering people to the kingdom of the dead.


The folk beliefs encompassed elements of Norse mythology, and in Peter Nicolai Arbo’s 1872 painting, we can identify mythological characters including Thor with his hammer, Odin, and his female warriors, the Valkyries. 


Since the 1970s, traces of folk legends and Norse mythology have been clearly identifiable in the musical genre of heavy metal. When the Swedish extreme metal band Bathory used Arbo’s painting on the cover of their album Blood Fire Death in 1988, the painting became part of modern music history.  


Since Bathory, several bands within sub-genres of hard rock – such as Norwegian black metal and Viking metal – have referred to the myth of the Wild Hunt in their songs, and perhaps it is not particularly surprising that fans of heavy metal embrace the Wild Hunt’s outsiders of yore. 

After all, they were pretty ‘metal’, weren’t they? 


Both tracks are from Bathory’s album "Blood Fire Death", Black Mark Productions 1988