KOKO Camden, London
April 6, 2008
All live pics and review by HannTu
Appropriately enough, it was clear and slightly snowy the evening of Paganfest, and with a 5pm start, there was ample time for all five bands to show their quality. It was a night for singing, dancing and some rocking heavy metal! As far as I was concerned, this was a perfect night: firstly, the lights were amazing, meaning I captured some great shots and secondly, the bouncers let us stay the entire show in the photo pit. The downside is that I rarely took any notes, so the report will be slightly short on words. But big on pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. Enjoy, as I did.
Týr and Eluveitie had been swapping opening places for the tour, and tonight Týr took to the stage first. I was first exposed to the Faroe Islanders when they were on tour with Wintersun and Amon Amarth here in 2006, and I was really impressed by their novel style of metal, as well as their singing in Faroese. Unfortunately I got there late tonight, thanks to the London tube service, so I only caught the last two or three songs. They played something from the upcoming album LAND (which will be out in May – if it’s anything like their previous albums, I strongly advise you to pick it up), but I didn’t manage to get the name of the track. They closed with ‘Hail To The Hammer’.
Sheer brilliance. I would have paid money to watch just them. Musically, the Swiss band have the melodic death metal sound (a lot like In Flames or Dark Tranquillity actually, guitarwise), but with added folk instruments and a strong Celtic influence. They call it the “New Wave of Folk Metal”. When they were setting up their stuff on stage, I felt like saying, as Skwisgard said, “Grampa’s guitars!” You only have to take a look at the pictures. Weird and arcane instruments that I’ve never even heard of, let alone seen – pipes, whistles, flutes, hurdy-gurdy. When the bare-chested and heavily tattooed Sevan Kirder came out carrying a dead animal (turns out to be a Galician bagpipe), I felt I’d seen it all.
The band (all eight of them) had immense fun onstage, and the immediate irresistable energy they possessed infected the crowd at once. Their songs were immensely fun to move along to, even a “guilty feet have no rhythm” shit dancer that I am, felt the itching in the soles of my feet. Sevan was the most active of the band once he relinquished the dead animal, and that’s saying a lot – capering, gambolling about, dancing. What can I say. It really did feel like those village scenes you see in movies. The violin tickled out its merry tune (pun alert: the beautiful violinist’s name is Meri) while beside it, the hurdy-gurdy churned out whatever it is hurdy-gurdys churn out, in the capable hands of the equally beautiful Anna Murphy.
The dreadlocked and multi-instrumentalist Chrigel roared, growled, screamed, sang, played the whistles and pipes and mandola. The two guitarists, Siméon and Ivo were more reserved, but they were incited into activity by the enthusiastic bassist Rafi and the eternally irrepressible Sevan, who must have twisted himself into knots while spinning and capering about. Definitely a band to check out – their album SLANIA is out now on Nuclear Blast. The Paganfest moves on to the US and Canada after the European leg, and your money will be well spent if you check out this band alone. This motley crew of mental modern day minstrels, this troupe of troublesome troubadours – they will make your day, I promise you.
Gray Sublime Archon
Of Fire, Wind and Wisdom
The Somber lay
From the madcap and nutty to the serious and magnificent. Moonsorrow came here just last month with Children of Bodom, and having heard a bit more of their music since then, I was in a better position to appreciate the epicness of this band. This band doesn’t do things on a small scale. Their latest album V: HÄVITETTY consists of two tracks, one 30 minutes and the other 26 minutes in length. Their latest EP entitled TULIMYRSKY, which as my friend Luxi comments “if you can call it an EP”, is 68 minutes in length.
To be honest, I can’t remember any specific moments in their set. It was just a blur of music, a hypnotic swirl of black metal singing and tremolo riffing, with atmospheric slow passages and fast double bass blasting fury. It’s just an aural experience, where you let yourself be lost in the layers and layers of sound confronting you. Frontman Ville Sorvali introduced the last song “One more enough for you? Well, one more that’s longer than usual, OKAY? We’re Moonsorrow from the icy wastes of Finland, thank you, see you next time!” before launching into the 20 minute epic ‘Jotunheim’.
Back to silly and madcap again. I saw Korpiklaani open for Dream Evil two years back, and they weren’t totally impressive. Tonight however, they got a wild reception, and the number of crowd surfers increased noticeably when the mad Finns got going. The rollicking jigs and uptempo rhythms just got the voices singing, the blood flowing and the feet tapping. ‘Wooden Pints’ was a great opener – ‘hit them straightaway and hit them hard’ seems to be their motto! Following up with ‘Cottages and Saunas’ kept the pace going, the unforgiving humppa upbeat, backed up with the wildly flying violin got both band (Kalle especially) and crowd dancing. ‘Tuli Kokko’ slowed things down to give both a slight breather.
They played a song from their latest album KORVEN KUNINGAS, ‘Kipumylly’, for which Jonne relinquished his guitar and took a turn at the tomtoms (?) The magnificent violin intro to ‘Pellonpekko’ accompanied by the accordion (Mr Kaupinnen is the quietest of the lot, to the point of sulkiness!) was just beautiful and when the guitars and drums come in, the song transforms from just head-nodding to a groove that your whole body falls into. This has been one of my favourite Korpiklaani songs for quite some time, and hearing it played live ensured that it would be stuck in my head for another month. Another song from KORVEN KUNINGAS, ‘Paljon On Koskessa Kiviä’ was played. I’m not sure about the rocky rapids, but I do know Korpiklaani rock. How fucking poor was that joke…Never mind.
They closed with two odes to the art of drinking, the first being ‘Happy Little Boozer’. Listen to this song and tell me you don’t feel the tingle in your body. The effervescent Kalle and Jonne are just a marvel to behold, smiles plastered on faces and dancing and skipping around. When Jonne asks the crowd “What are your last orders?”, the inevitable reply must surely be “Beer Beer!”
Cottages and Saunas
Paljon On Koskessa Kiviä
Happy Little Boozer
Four awesome bands down, and the headliner still to come. Ensiferum are less overtly folk driven than the other bands tonight, but their subject matter is still Viking/pagan driven. Ensiferum share a common frontman with Norther, in guitarist and singer Petri Lindroos. He replaced Jari Mäenpää who left to concentrate on Wintersun. It’s an adulterous business after all.
The more straight-forward thrash driven metal with slight folkish elements works well for the extremely talented Petri whose guitar skills I have already commented upon in my Norther live review. The speedy galloping riffing such as on ‘Iron’, ‘Ahti’ and ‘One More Magic Potion’ gets heads banging, with the folk embellishments provided by the beautiful keyboardist (temporary, unfortunately) Emmi Silvennoinen.
There was more than a half hour wait between the end of Korpiklaani’s set and Ensiferum’s entrance, with harassed looking roadies scurrying frantically around. The first three songs suffered from poor sound, with Petri’s vocals and guitar barely audible. The band kept turning around to the sound people and motioning “Up! Up!” The crowd too responded at the end of ‘Ahti’, by chanting “Turn it up! Turn it up!” To the band’s credit, they took it in their stride and with a smile, bassist Sami Hinkka distracting the crowd with a little 12-bar blues jam.
The sound improved markedly on ‘Lai Lai Hei’, which was an immensely popular tune anyway, and the crowd could be heard singing along. The rousing ‘Guardians of Hate’ and the catchy ‘Dragonheads’ were received equally well. ‘Token of Time’ got a massive cheer because of the snippet of Iron Maiden’s ‘The Trooper’ at the end. Never discount the power of a tribute to Iron Maiden; so if you’re in a band, reading this, and doing a live show soon, drop in a bit of Iron Maiden. It never fails!
‘Victory Song’ went by in a flash, although the song itself is about 10 minutes long. This midtempo rocker is followed by the furious ‘Blood Is The Price Of Glory’, whereupon the band left the stage. The adorable Emmi tripped over her keyboard power cable, and bounded straight back up with an embarrassed smile. No damage done to either keyboard or keyboardist…‘Treacherous Gods’ and ‘Battle Song’ closed the night, with the crowd roaring “EN-SI! EN-SI!”
It was a great night overall, with value for money for five high quality and entertaining bands. If the show is coming near you, whether in Europe or USA or Canada, do make it a point to attend. I beseech you to. The adrenaline will leave you tingly for a few days, and your whole body will be aching from the headbanging, bouncing, singing, dancing etc, but I assure you that the smile on your face for the next week or so will hurt even more.
One More Magic Potion
Lai Lai Hei
Guardians Of Fate
Token Of Time
Blood Is The Price Of Glory
Thanks to Adam Sagir at The Noise Cartel for the photo pass!
More photos from the show on Page 2