Date: 15th November 2014
Venue: The Button Factory, Dublin
Line-up: Eluveitie + Аркона (Arkona) + Skálmöld
The last time Eluveitie graced our shores they played a support slot to Swedish power metal band Sabaton, 2 years later they have returned to treat us to a headline show. They’ve also brought with them some friends, Russia’s pagan metal band Аркона (Arkona) and Skálmöld, viking metal from Iceland. With this stellar line-up of folk metal, we were really in for a treat.
When I arrived Iceland’s Skálmöld had already started their set. Their version of viking/folk metal was a good start to the night getting a favourable response from the crowd. Much of their material had a huge sound to it which took over the room, heavy faster sections in a death/black style was countered by a calmer melodic sections. The band was really enthusiastic while they were playing, running around and smiling, just generally enjoying themselves. All of the bands lyrics were in their native Icelandic but a language barrier didn’t stop people from enjoying the music, after all music is a language which transcends barriers. A great start to the show, and only a taste of what was yet to come.
Next to take to the stage were Аркона (Arkona) from Russia, one of the biggest bands in the world of folk metal. The band is on tour currently promoting their latest album ‘Явь’ (Yav), a more progressive offering than fans are used to. Not many metal bands begin their set playing bagpipes, but that’s what multi-instrumentalist Vladimir “Wolf” Reshetniko did. Playing a mixture of new and old tracks the one thing that stood out the most was front-woman Masha “Scream” Arkhipova’s stage presence. The woman was truly in her element, with a fox pelt hung around her neck, she was truly engrossed in the performance giving it her all. Their set was closed with some of their more upbeat folk songs, ‘Stenka na Stenku’ and ‘Yarilo’ sending the crowd into a frenzy.
With the crowd well and truly warmed-up Eluveitie came to the stage with a huge response from the crowd. From the beginning of ‘King’ from their latest album ‘Origins’ to older tracks like ‘Kingdom Come Undone’, the band put on a brilliant performance with an excitable reaction from the crowd. Much of the bands set was made from ‘Origins’ as the band are currently touring for it, tracks like ‘The Nameless’ and ‘Vianna’ sounded very good live. Throughout their tour the band have made the crowd vote on which version of ‘Call of the Mountains’ should be performed; the track has been recorded in 5 languages. Our choice was between the English version and the German-Swiss version, with the latter clearly winning the vote, much to vocalist and hurdy gurdy player Anna Murphy’s annoyance since the English version had yet to win a vote so far. Of course the band hasn’t totally forgotten their older songs playing ‘AnDro’ from the bands very first album ‘Spirit’, an electric version of ‘Omnos’ from the acoustic album ‘Evocation I’ and, for myself at least, the highlight of the night was ‘Qouth the Raven’. ‘Inis Mona’ closed the night on a high, with Аркона’s (Arkona) Vladimir helping out the band on bagpipes due to Eluveitie’s own bagpipe player Patrick Kistler being absent from the tour (and later left the band).
It was nice to see The Button Factory almost full with an energetic crowd of metal fans of all varieties. It’s not very often you get to see Icelandic, Russian and Swiss bands playing folk metal together, but each of them played their own unique variation of the genre. Overall it was a brilliant night with each band playing headliner-worthy sets and a happy crowd leaving the venue.