WHAT THE FOLK METAL?
28 October 2015
So there are some urban legends going around, that Folk metal, firstly, isn’t uhmm metal? Secondly, that no one is interested in folk metal? And thirdly? Well I don’t give a fuck what they say and neither should you... folk metal IS metal, it's alive and kicking and fucking loved, end of story!
Sure, its not everyone’s cup of metal tea, that much can be said of all the millions of metal sub genres that exist, alongside the ongoing genre wars and the metamorphosis that is metal, on a daily basis. I personally enjoy folk music (amongst other non-metal genres) especially live... mix some metal with that and you have a beautiful combination of powerful, jolly, emotional, full bodied music, with textures almost inconceivable. This is of course due to ancient melodies and traditional instruments used in conjunction with conventional ones. But this we all know, or should at least. Putting a stigma on any metal music is just silly. We have the broadest variety of music. I mean come on dude, metal gets mixed with just about everything, giving birth to intellectual, listening pleasure. All metalheads should be open to this. We have no need to limit ourselves to one sub genre alone, or diss another. I mean how fucking boring, might as well listen to mainstream radio then.
With all that said, I was totally amped for the Swiss folk metal legends, ELUVEITIE. In preparation for the show, I made sure I avoided any social media post promoting the show, with pictures, videos and any Cape Tonians posting about their experience... why? It's simple, I did not want to go with any pre conceived expectation and I love surprises. I knew they were gona blow us away and didn’t want to know how, beforehand. Main conversations leading up to the event, aside from knowing its gona be eventful, were, how to pronounce Eluveitie? Turns out it's easy, you say it as is, but the “u” is silent: /ɛlˈveɪti/ el-VAY-ti. The other was the fact that there was no support act, which a lot found strange. It did however add to the mystery of the event and what this 8 piece, had in store for us.
Mother fuck! Was my first thought when I saw the massive queue as we arrived. I really didn’t know how many people to expect, but this definitely exceeded, what I hoped for. Ladies? Am I seeing right? Yes there were plenty a metal lass about, a lot more then what I am used to, going to my beloved metal gigs. Yes! Already the hype was there, as we metalheads patiently stood in the long queue, waiting for the doors to open. Just to be greeted by more groups of metalheads. whom made their walk up from Iron Tusk. We all just knew it, we could feel it, this is gona be EPIC!
As we made our way inside Bassline, Witchfest flashbacks start running through my mind, again... I doubt that will ever change and I will probably mention it over and over. What a pleasure to now witness yet another Great International act, thanks to Witchdoctor Productions. The stage was set and ready for action, the hype was building with the music choice being played, as we anticipated any movement on stage... then Queen's legendary Bohemian Rhapsody, started belowing from the speakers... yes, you guessed it, we all sang along with passion! Just as it ended, the lights on stage suddenly moved and Eluveitie entered the stage one by one. The crowed roared and cheered, with tremendous excitement! Goosebumps all round, it's happening folks!
Wow! The lighting throughout the entire show was striking! The sound, thunderous! The fans were immediately engaged with Anna on the hurdy-gurdy and Shir-Ran on the electric fiddle. Wait what? Hurdy-Gurdy? Yes, the hurdy-gurdy is a crank turned, stringed instrument. With a wheel that turns, engaging the strings, similar to that of a violin bow and a keyboard for the melodies, similar to that of a mini piano. Simplified enough? The sound it makes is freekishly unique and typical of many a folk music outfit, like whistles, flutes and bagpipes of all sorts. Lets not forget mandolas and guitars... add some hard hitting drums, thrashing electric guitars, beautiful clean vocals, kontrasting with harsh, growl vocals, a serious amount of headbanging on stage and you'll have yourself an incredible Folk Metal experience.
By the end of the first song, we were in complete awe, with what we had just witnessed... so many instruments and unique sounds, combined with what we love so much, METAL \m/ No time was waisted as they quickly set up for the next song. Frontman Chrigel did some introductions and humbling thank you's. He educated us with the passion they have, for music of the Celts, which is what Eluveitie is all about. He kept us informed and entertained throughout the show, getting the crowed involved on numerous occasions, so did Anna. Man these guys have some serious musical talent and impressive stage presence, as they jam their instruments, head bang, sing, growl and often change positions. Even Merlin the drummer, was very animated, with his long hair, massive beard and speedy arms, all over the place. Fuck yes!
The excitement of the crowed just grew bigger with every song, we couldn’t get enough of the jolly, powerful, mesmerising and intoxicating music. Anna even sang “The Call of the Mountains” in Swiss-German, jokingly telling us what a fucked up language it is and I can relate, being German myself... Swiss is damn weird man, you mix yourself some German and a little French and just to make sure you confuse the fuck out of everybody, you pronounce both interwoven, language dialects differently, to their originals. Enter mind fuck here. It was beautiful and even more so in Swiss ;)
They took us on an incredible journey, starting hard and heavy and toning it right down, getting us all emotional... And just like that, things came to a standstill, as they prepared for their acoustic set. I was excited beyond words. There is something very special and intimate, when it comes to acoustic sets and here we are, privy enough to be a part of that intimacy. What a show it had already been and now this too, it was overwhelming! Starting off with Chrigel on the mandola and Matteo on the whistle, slowly incorporating Shir-Ran on the electric fiddle. Then Anna on her acoustic hurdy-gurdy, and slowly Raffael and Ivo on accoustic guitars and Kay on bass. Chrigel changing instruments between his mandola and whistle, as well as Matteo between his whistle and pipes. Beautiful vocals of course were Anna and Shir-Ran. It was so damn special, folk music at its core, enticing our past lives and taking us back to a time of myths and legends.
Thankfully it wasn't over yet as they had another set of powerful, mind blowing metal in store for us. We were overdosing on all things folk metal, extremely talented musicians and a vibe, that no other sub genre can invigorate. From whispfully dancing, head banging, circle pits to crowed surfing. Even challenging the barrier security... after being motivated by Anna. The security however won and smiled at their delight, of a job well done.
Eluveitie were absolutely SPECTACULAR! It was a show of epic and colourful proportions. The music, so kontrasting, dark, powerful, happy and beautiful. To me, if you sound better on stage then any recording, refined to perfection, you are creating the best, musical experience ever. This is why, I thrive so much, on great live music. You become one with the music and can feel every bit of passion. Eluveitie did just that! To top it all... nothing says thank you, from the fans, quite like an encore does. It too was filled with passion, excitement, the urge and necessity to have MORE! Oh and they gave us more, in the best possible way, with “Inis Mona” a song, legend in itself. WOW!
The show, sadly, was over. Smiles were all round, fans were gobsmacked and in a trance like state of having experienced such an incredible journey and dream come true! Something South African fans are craving. Yes, Folk Metal lives in our veins and our past lives, or ancestors if you must. It nourishes the soul and sure as hell, is alive and kicking \m/ I still want more man! Its damn addictive and I am absolutely delighted, that I will get to witness Eluveitie again, at Wacken next year. For now though, I am gona get my next International fix, with Finntroll, next month and so should you \m/
by Heidi de Villiers