With Týr and Skálmöld
Relentless Garage, London
5th October 2013
Review by Victoria Fenbane
Photos by Michelle Murphy
As the nights draw in the Heidenfest festival tour makes it’s way around Europe, once again missing out the UK. The arrival on UK soil of an exceptional line-up in support of Finntroll’s ‘Blodsvept Over Europe’ tour, goes a long way towards placating those folk metal fans unable to get across the water. Finntroll are back in London just 4 months after selling out Camden’s Underworld on a Monday night. This time they are accompanied by fellow Nordic acts Týr (from the far flung Faroe Islands) and Skálmöld (from Iceland).
Iceland has a population roughly equal to that of Leicester, but has a reputation for generating a diverse and talented range of musical artists. Skálmöld are no exception and are Iceland’s biggest metal act.
Singing in their native language, their kooky heavy metal viking folk has filled over half the venue already. Their set closes with ‘Kvaðning’ a lengthy and memorable prog-out which is distinctive in a scene awash with folk metal clone bands. A stunning start to the evening.
Týr originate from the remote Faroe Islands and tonight are promoting new album ‘Valkyrja’. They open with a near perfect rendition of biggest hit ‘ Hold the Heathen Hammer High’ which is accompanied by a fan holding an inflatable hammer aloft!
Despite the humour in the pit, on stage it all seems rather serious with front-man Henri never cracking a smile despite a lot of light-hearted banter between songs.
The set includes 3 new songs: ‘Blood of Heroes’, ‘Mare of My Night’ and ‘Blood of Heroes’. Týr play immaculately, almost clinically and it left me feeling slightly cold.
The crowd were pretty much static too but that could be in part due to the technical natures of the music.
At the conclusion of the galloping ‘Shadow of the Swastika’ the band vacate the stage but the light-show hints at a possible encore, which is called for but hopes are dashed when a tech starts dismantling the drum kit.
A shame many fans had come out to see them tonight.
Finntroll take the stage with Vreth (Mathias Lillmåns) looking a little more disheveled than the polished image they started this tour with. The Garage is stiflingly hot once again but the Finns do love their saunas, so should be right at home, but even they comment on the heat.
The band launch into the title track of their latest album ‘Blodsvept’, causing the most infatuated fans to rush towards the front where they commence gesticulating and head-bang over-enthusiastically.
This time round I stayed well away from the most animated areas of the crowd, having been knocked off my feet and injured at the previous London Finntroll gig. Violent crowd behaviour is a common feature of folk metal gigs, seemingly from the fact that some fans don’t get out much and do not know how to behave properly at gigs.
The band seem to enjoy the response they elicit and take obvious pleasure in the control they have over the crowd and encourage large pits. It’s OK for them on stage behind the barriers!
The Trolls characteristically storm through their 90 minute set, the 7 newer songs going down better than in May. The show seems slicker than at the start of the tour and the band themselves more confident. However the downside of them having now played this new show many times is that it feels less raw and spontaneous.
Since the release of ‘Blodsvept’ Finntroll’s stage show has increased in resemblance to a cabaret stage show; developing to match their crafted steampunk-rockabilly-twenties image. Which features those ears, which of course have to be mentioned.
In theory they are at risk of the same kind of ridicule Mortiis faced during his prosthetic phase, but the Trolls pull it off, something which is helped by the make-up being so well done. Overall the feel from the set is that it is more practiced, less spontaneous but still fantastic.
At the conclusion of the joik-tastic ‘Jaktens Tid’ the band disappear but there is a lackluster call for their return.
It’s not as if the packed venue has not enjoyed the spectacle, so it it a little odd. Despite this they come back on and conclude with classics ‘Nattfödd’ and of course ‘Trollhammaren’
Great to see such a great international folk metal line-up in London and the UK as a whole. Rock the Nation take note – we want Heidenfest back!