November 7, 2014 Eluveitie, TYR, & Metsatöll musical celebration House of Blue Sunset Strip Hollywood, CA 10-2-14
Folk metal is a style of music that is almost always a fun and enjoyable live experience. Eluveitie, Týr, and Metsatöll stopped by the legendary House of Blues in Hollywood, California on Thursday October 2nd before a packed venue, ready for a night filled with classic folk metal, friends old and new, traditional instruments, and of course beer, beer and more beer!
Metsatöll hails from Estonia. Perhaps not quite as popular yet as the other bands on the bill, they are steadily gaining momentum here in the U.S. thanks to already having a couple of stateside appearances under their collective sword belts. The exotic sound of their lyrics, sung in an ancient strain of their native tongue, are reminiscent of their Finnish neighbors across the Baltic Sea. The name Metsatöll is derived from this dialect, and translates to mean “wolf.” The deep voice of vocalist Lauri “Varulven” Õunapuu goes quite well with the bouncy rhythms and unique time signatures the band often employs. His interchange between flute and vocals was a treat to watch and listen to as they played such rousing odes to pagan ways with “Must Hunt,” “Kulmking” and fan favorite “Kivine Ma.”
Týr at this point need very little introduction, as multiple support and headlining tours throughout the states have cemented them into the hearts of folk metal fans everywhere. The Faroese troupe has a more traditional metal set-up, foregoing some of the more exotic instruments in favor of the typical guitar, bass guitar, drums and vocals arrangement of more typical metal bands. Týr thrive with catchy, unique melodies and vocal arrangements gleaned from the ancient historic canon of their own people. Energetic on stage, throughout a performance that included such hits as “Blood of Heroes,” “Mare of My Night,” and an obligatory airing of “Hold the Heathen Hammer High,” it was evident that a lot of adoration and appreciation was going both ways between band and crowd. Their rousing brand of power-metal infused folk has a broad appeal, as the large and varied audience singing along to their anthems showcased.
Swiss headliners Eluveitie filled the stage with their numerous band members, though due to a family emergency, they had to go on without their violin player, Nicole Ansperger. Always a treat live, perhaps the most interesting aspect to their arrangement was the hurdy-gurdy. Handled by the nimble fingers of long time member Anna Murphy, the accordion-like instrument looked like some kind of musical Jack-in-the-box. Murphy proved her acumen once again as she handled both this ponderous, unusual instrument as well as providing vocals and backing vocals to quite a few songs. Despite the loss of Ansperger, Eluveitie put on a stellar performance, using multiple flutes, the aforesaid hurdy-gurdy, bagpipes, fiddles, pipes, whistles, and mandola to augment the razor-sharp In Flames-esque guitar attack and double-bass heavy drums they have become known for over the course of six acclaimed studio albums. Eluveitie, with Chrigel Glanzmann at the vocal helm, sings in English, but also the lesser known Gaulish tongue. In addition to this, they add further exotic flavor with their use of an ancient, nearly extinct dialect of the Celtic language dating back to only a few centuries A.D. Playing multiple cuts from their latest album Origins, Eluveitie treated the seething, cheering crowd to “King,” “Helvetios,” “Inis Mona,” “A Rose for Epona,” and “Carry the Torch.” Spinning their songs with such precision and energy, they made those in attendance feel like they were part of an old tale from long ago. The stunning ‘Call of the Mountains’, which the band recorded in both English as well as Swiss-German, was about to be played when Anna Murphy asked the crowd which language they preferred to hear it in. Folk metal fans, true to their nature, chose the non-English version, as their love for the lands and peoples of faraway is constantly fueled by the legions of bands captivating them with words they do not even know. English or not, the song sounded beautiful.
All three bands dominated the stage tonight, and as fans left satisfied and happy, it was clear that each act would be welcomed back any time in the future. Thankfully for the audience they still have new material from each of the acts to spin for sometime until their return