Korpiklaani

support Metsatöll + Huldre
author MST date 16/04/13 venue Voxhall, Århus, DEN

Just three days after Royal Metal Fest 2013 I find myself back in the comfortable surroundings I've become familiar with when attending metal gigs in Århus. A fair amount of (predominantly very young) people had gathered in front of Voxhall before the venue opened to attend what turned out to be one hell of a folk metal party. Korpiklaani and Metsatöll were on tour, and with Huldre from Copenhagen acting as local support, an array of various alternative instruments were surely headed our way.

Like the photos? Find more photos by Marika Hyldmar from this and many other shows here
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Huldre

Huldre play a fairly typical brand of folk metal, characterized by very simple "metal" laying the foundation of the soundscape with violin, hurdy gurdy and the odd flute here and there adding the folk elements to the music. The band's members are associated with other Danish metal bands (Submission and Eldjudnir) as well as folk music projects like Asynje and Gny. As Huldre enter the stage, the first song of the set is initially devoid of any metal elements, with singer Nanna Barslev's clean Danish singing leading the song until it breaks out into folk metal territory. Barslev's vocals have previously been bashed rather harshly on this site, but as I listen to her singing through the entirety of Huldre's set I am unable to fathom why. Sure, her vocals are nothing groundbreakingly spectacular, but I find them very enjoyable and definitely fitting to the music being played by the other five members of the band. At times reminding me of the female vocals in those of Eluveitie's songs more concentrated on their folky elements, Barslev's vocals vary from mid-range to near-soprano vocals not unlike those found in female-fronted gothic metal.

Like the other bands playing this evening, Huldre were dressed to the occasion in Medieval-themed clothing. Violinist Laura Emilie Beck and Barslev brought the party on stage while the rest of the band's members remained sort of anonymous while playing the festive songs. Barslev in particular proved to be a great frontwoman with her dancing and general good mood and between song banter. As mentioned earlier, Huldre's music was quite simple, and when the folk instruments were taking a break to let the guitar out into the spotlight, it got a tad tedious. But as soon as the violin came back on, there was nothing to complain about. A quick glance around Voxhall revealed that Huldre were a great success: people were dancing, headbanging and jumping around, activities that would be repeated many a time in the hours to come.

Metsatöll

Metsatöll from Estonia turned out to be quite the surprise. I hadn't listened to the band's music prior to the show, and I was immediately impressed. The music is essentially a mix of thrash and heavy metal, with Lauri Õunapuu playing folk instruments such as torupill (Estonian bagpibe), flutes, ängipill (bowed lyre), Jew's harp and kannel to provide the music with a folky feel. Naturally, the band's lyrical themes of nature, ancient mythology and history, as well as the lyrics being in Estonian, only further enhanced that aforementioned feeling. The show was opened with an energetic song featuring the torupill and flute and some double vocals reminiscent of how Heidevolk mix mid-range and deep, bassy vocals on top of each other. Guitarist and frontman Markus Teeäär took care of the mid-range vocals that make up the majority of the vocals in the band's music, which were both cleanly sung and shouted, while Õunapuu provided the vocals in the lower end of the scale. Between songs, Teeäär would address the audience with a smile and thank everyone, and he even attempted to speak a bit of Danish without much success. The band generally looked happy and energized on stage, and I wasn't the only one in the crowd who was mighty impressed by the Estonians. The party that Huldre had started in the crowd earlier was continued with headbanging and moshing, and the atmosphere in Voxhall was excellent. With both great music and an extremely convincing performance, Metsatöll hereby receive my heartfelt recognition and recommendation.

Korpiklaani

Without a doubt, 90% of the audience were here because of the headliners. Korpiklaani are the type of band that release a few spectacularly awesome drinking songs, and then lots and lots of filler. As a result, most people in attendance were here to hear a few particular songs. Korpiklaani had prepared almost 20 songs for us though, so we all had some waiting to do.

The formula is pretty simple: fun and lighthearted metal with accordion, violin and flutes on top of energetic riffing and drumming, ingredients that make you want to either bang your head or dance around in a drunken haze. Jonne Järvelä's rough singing is far from pretty, but in the energetic party-themed songs they work perfectly. On this Tuesday night however, Korpiklaani played a bunch of slow songs, some of them could almost be called ballads, that required Järvelä to actually sing, a feat that he wasn't able to pull off. But the crowd didn't care - they were dancing to Korpiklaani, and nothing would change that. People kept chanting "Vodka! Vodka!", asking the band to play one of their all-time hits, a great drinking song. But alas, we would have to wait. After a while it seemed as if the band got tired of the fact that the crowd they were playing for only wanted a specific song, and for good reason. But once again, no matter what happened on stage or what song the band played, there was an absolutely insane party in front of the stage with scores of people dancing in huge circles, headbanging, jumping around and generally having a good time. I had a hard time being disappointed with the band's performance when the atmosphere in the venue was so good. After a number of their fun songs, including "Metsämies", "Viima" and a cover of Motörhead's "Iron Fist", and a whole bunch of mediocre, mid-tempo songs that would normally make me feel drowzy, it was finally time for the final few songs: the audience were finally given their precious "Vodka" and eternal classic "Wooden Pints". After a brief trip backstage the band returned to play "Tequila" and "Beer Beer" to properly leave me with mixed feelings. On one hand, I was disappointed by the band's performance and general mood: the band would generally just play their music and look like it was a job, though the odd sudden burst of energy coming from Järvelä or new violinist Tuomas Rounakari always brought a smile to my face. But on the other hand, I had a great time because of the completely careless attitude that 90% of the audience were showing. I've never danced this much during the course of a single hour! Because of these different points listed above, I feel I have to grade the overall experience instead of the band itself. However, it is quite unlikely that I'm going to return to repeat this experience.

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