Norwegian folk rock band Gåte wins Melodie Grand Prix contest; goes to represent Norway on Eurovision

Author Askar Ibragimov - 4.2.2024

On January 3, 2024, a folk rock / pagan metal band, Gåte (“Riddle” in Norwegian), won the Melodie Grand Prix, a Norwegian contest determining the representative to Eurovision from the country. Gåte’s music is described as a dark, mesmerizing, and stunningly beautiful take on Nordic folk where they blend elements from traditional Norse and pagan music with more modern genres like rock and industrial. They are also sometimes called the most visual rock band in Norway.

The label’s press release (titled “WE WON!”) describes Ulveham as “stirred up something fundamental in souls across borders and generations, calling forth an inner primal strength”. The song is based on a thousand-year-old tale of ”Møya I Ulveham,” where a young maiden undergoes a series of injustices, but by upholding justice and goodness, even in the toughest trials, she triumphs over evil forces and breaks the curse placed upon her. The performance is also an astonishing portrayal of raw female energy where Gunnhild Sundli excels in her role as lead vocalist. Dominating in the second semi-final a few days ago, Gåte quickly became a fan favorite, generating waves in social media and local press. Before the final, the band had to rewrite the song to match the Eurovision rules: an initial version was the verbatim Old Norse text written a millennia ago, while ESC requires the song to be original and published last year.

The band is set, in particular, to perform at the Midgardsblot Metal Festival this year. There is little doubt that after Eurovision, they will gain much more exposure across Europe, as happened last year with Lord of the Lost (which, actually, did lost at Eurovision ’23, placed last).

Gåte comments: 

“It is really amazing to see all the support for us and Ulveham!  Thank you so much for giving us your vote! Our mission has always been to shine a light on the amazingly rich treasures of folklore and traditional music from Norway. This gives us the best opportunity to show them to the world!”

The competition is traditionally dominated by pop commercial music, but once in a while we are able to see rock and metal bands taking over. Gåte emerged in the early 2000s (when the lead singer, Gunnhild Sundli, was just a teenager), seamlessly blending traditional Norwegian folk music with explosive rock, catapulting them from the confines of a practice space to grand stages in record time. With this unique take on folk/trad rock and their triumphant live shows, the band has managed to captivate a massive audience. The critically acclaimed band took a 12-year break before making a much-anticipated comeback in 2017, where Gåte again experienced enormous success.

Another interesting entry on the Melodi Grand Prix was an “electro-metal” band Gothminister with their hymn “We come alive” (the band recently toured Finland with Lord of the Lost). However, while strong, their Goth/dancefloor hit lacks the immersive impression that Gåte delivered in full.

The text is partially based on an Indie Recordings press release.