Finntroll

support Týr + Skálmöl
author MST date 08/09/13 venue Voxhall, Århus, DEN

A few months after I last visited Voxhall for a regular gig I find myself in a familiar setting for yet another folk metal show. It has almost become a tradition for folk metal tours to play Voxhall whenever such tours visit this small country known as Denmark. Three years ago, at this very venue, I saw Finntroll on stage for the very first time, and since then the Finns have released the excellent "Blodsvept" LP. A decent crowd had gathered when the first band started playing at 19:00, which is really early for a three-band-gig in Denmark, and this is testament to Denmark's liking for folk metal.

All photos by Marika Hyldmar
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Skálmöld

I had almost no knowledge of Skálmöld's sound prior to their opening set on this Sunday night. As it turned out, they are a 6-piece from Iceland incorporating keyboards, three guitars and varying vocal styles from the entire band in order to create a pretty unique folk metal sound. Lead vocalist Björgvin Sigurðsson vocals are deep and sort of shouty, but closer to clean vocals. Actual clean vocals from the keyboard player and screams from guitarist Baldur Ragnarsson as well as regular vocal choir from the rest of the band make the vocals constantly interesting. But like most Icelandic bands in this reviewer's opinion the band's biggest strength lies in the instrumental passages without vocals; melodic folk sections and more atmospheric pieces between vocal sections as well as (very) long solos make the parts of the music with vocals sound almost inferior. In terms of performance, Skálmöld put on a standard show in which most of the band would headbang while frontman Sigurðsson did a decent job of filling the centre of the stage. Sigurðsson had the added bonus of actually speaking Danish which made the crowd feel more at home between songs. As a support band who are relatively new, Skálmöld were at the disadvantage of playing songs that most of the audience didn't really know, and I'm sure that a more dedicated crowd could've potentially made a Skálmöld show great. I was decently warmed up, but not particularly overwhelmed by the Icelandic sextet.

7

Týr

Týr is a band I had seen before and listened to countless times, so they were a welcome addition to the bill. The Faroese folk metallers play a very simple type of metal with pretty much only the lyrical themes making them an actual folk metal band. Like Skálmöld, they also spoke Danish so the connection with the audience was there immediately. The quartet got things started with the excellent "Hold The Heathen Hammer High" from 2009's "By The Light Of The Northern Star", but the setlist was mainly focused around newer material from the band's upcoming album as well as 2011's "The Lay of Thrym". On stage, the three men standing in front of the drums behaved very differently. Lead guitarist Terji Skibenæs looked almost indifferent most of the time, bassist Gunnar H. Thomsen was a powerhouse of energy, and frontman Heri Joensen was sort of a mix between the two as there was plenty of joy and feeling about him all the way through the show. On top of that, Joensen proved to be a great frontman between songs as he would make everyone feel right at home, making the show in the medium-sized venue feel quite intimate. Watching Týr play was by no means an overly exciting experience, but as a band they were absolutely rock solid.

7

Finntroll

If anyone reading this should be unaware, Finntroll are a major name in folk metal. Often dubbed "extreme folk metal", their brand of (easy on the ears) black metal with lots of keyboards quickly made them a household name for metalheads almost a decade ago with the release of their first couple of albums. These days their sound is less extreme and a lot more catchy, but the main ingredients of harsh vocals, dark yet melodic riffs and keyboards are all still there. The most recent member to have joined the band is vocalist Mathias "Vreth" Lillmåns who became the band's third vocalist in 2006. He is now an integral part of the band, a fact recently solidified on "Blodsvept" which was released earlier this year.

As Finntroll walked on stage and started playing the title track from their latest album, they did so wearing glued on ears of varying lengths and some light make-up to truly make them all look 'trollish'. With their latest album, the Finns have taken sort of a steam punk image, though on stage only Vreth's jacket, tubes attached to his pants and a large military-like microphone made any connections to said image. The sextet remained stationary throughout most of the show as they played an extremely varied set which contained two songs from each of their first four albums, and slightly more songs from the latest two, as is to be expected. It wasn't the most energetic performance; the guitarists and bassist pretty much only receive points for being professional, seasoned musicians who know how to play in front of a worshipping crowd. It was up to Vreth at the centre of the stage to pull the rest of the band up from decency - and that he did. The entire ordeal was curated excellently by said frontman, even through spontaneous jam sessions when problems occurred with the bass, and with the lights later on. The band's eternal fan favourite "Trollhammaren" received an enormous response as the last song as was to be expected, and after a brief visit behind the curtains we were treated to a 2-song encore to properly send us off into the Sunday night having been treated to a Finnish folk metal band who know exactly what it takes to entertain.

8

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