Folk and pagan metal fans have been waiting for a line-up featuring some known names aka ‘the superstars’ of the folk metal scene ever since the Heidenfest/Paganfest tours came to a halt. Korpiklaani answered the prayers and announced the “Folk Metal Superstars” tour featuring some other superstars Arkona, Heidevolk and Trollfest. The leg of the tour in Hamburg also featured the extended line-up with Black Messiah, Evertale and The Privateer so an evening full of pagan/folk metal madness was on!
The fun started with The Privateer. I gotta mention it was late afternoon when they started playing so you normally don’t expect many visitors around that time. However, a bunch of fans were already waiting at the venue and so a good atmosphere was guaranteed. The German pirate/folk metal band started their set with some sound problems but the performance got better with each song. Although I have heard the name many times, this was my first time seeing them and they definitely left a good impression. Their music, attitude and the nice pirate costumes definitely fit to the concept. The band played songs from the latest album “The Goldsteen Lay” as well as some old material.
Another highlight in the set was the nice harmony of the vocalist Daniel and the violinist/vocalist Clara; this show was also Daniel’s first tour with The Privateer and we gotta say he fit in to the band very well! Overall, it was definitely an entertaining performance and if you are into the pirate concept in metal, check out The Privateer.
Up next was Evertale. Hailing from Germany, the band has been formed in 1997 under a different name and has been active as Evertale since 2006. Their music is a mixture of power and heavy metal. The venue became more crowded by the time the band started playing and you could see the energy rising. However, one wonders if this was a really good idea to switch from pirate folk metal to power/heavy metal. In contrast to the crowd being really into it during The Privateer set, the atmosphere here was a bit more dull and not so dynamic I must say. I wasn’t sure if this was because of the band itself or because of the audience eagerly waiting for the next bands. The band was quite professional for sure but the energy lacked as the guys didn’t make any effort in entertaining the audience. We got the feeling that maybe they were having a bad day or just not feeling it…
The energy definitely increased with the next band Black Messiah. Formed in 1992 in Germany, they are quite known in the folk metal scene with their viking metal concept and I am sure some of you saw the band in one of the festivals in Germany. My first encounter with them was in Dark Troll Festival two years ago and so I was curious about their performance.
As soon as the band started their set, I could see fans moving and cheering so it was obvious that the majority was into them. The concepts and the melodies during the set definitely kept the crowd going and we could even see the mosh pit moving. One highlight for me was the vocalist Zagan’s multi skills; one moment, he would play the guitar and the other moment the violin! This definitely added a great dimension to the set.
Now comes the turning point. Some of you may have heard of Trollfest. These Norwegian metallers call themselves True Norwegian Balkan Metal… Yes, you read it right. Formed in 2003, these crazy Norwegian trolls make a combination of folk/balkan metal and they even have their own language for their music. Now I gotta tell you one thing: I saw the band 1-2 times many years ago and although I found the music entertaining, they didn’t really catch my attention. This time it was different though. From the moment the band conquered the stage, I knew it was gonna be extraordinary; it was obvious from the costumes, corpse paint, balloons on the heads and total party attitude!
From the accordion to the double drums (played by the vocalist and the drummer), the band didn’t leave any single second for the fans to breathe as every moment was crazy and fun. When I especially compared the previous performances to this one, I could definitely see a huge improvement in every way possible! There were also many highlights during the set…Britney Spears cover “Toxic”, the bass player crowdsurfing, the vocalist asking the audience to jump up and down, do push-ups and dance (“we are a part of Kaos”)…So the set as well as the songs were beyond colorful and crazy! My personal favorites were “Brumlebassen”, “Kaptein Kaos”, “Toxic” and “Die Grosse Echsen”.
After a crazy set, the fans were more than ready for Heidevolk! These Dutch folk metallers have been the favorite of the fans and since their latest album “Vuur van verzet” was released early this year, it was a good time to celebrate the new release.With an act like Heidevolk, a good show is always guaranteed; the energy of the vocalists Jacco and Lars as well as the good atmosphere between the band and the audience is always an essential part and so today was not an exception. I have seen the band many times in the past and this time, one big highlight for me was the bassist Rowan Roodbaert being more active in the vocals which was great to hear and experience; so instead of two vocals, we got the experience three vocals which went pretty well with their set.
One surprise for me was the setlist. Since the band’s latest album was released this year, I expected them to focus on the more recent albums but the band had the nice mixture of the ‘new’ ones like “A Wolf In My Heart”, “Tiwaz” and “Britannia” but also the favorites “Ostara”, “Saksenland” and surely the classic “Vulgaris Magistralis” (which proves once again that Lars is amazing in those vocals!). At this show, I also realized that I may be a fan of the old Heidevolk a bit more; the new songs worked quite well in the set but for me the old songs would always be the classics. Nevertheless, Heidevolk is Heidevolk; they definitely give the fans what they need and they do it with full dedication!
Arkona next. This Russian act has also been one of the highlights of the scene ever since they were formed in 2002. The band released their latest album “Khram” recently and so it was time to experience the mysticism and the magic live. We were greeted with the mystic atmosphere as Masha started the set with the drums and her mesmerizing voice. Throughout the set, the band delivered us a mixture of atmospheric melodies and pagan metal. The whole atmosphere was rather dark which fit to the concept; one could even say that they were the darkest band of the tour. That being said, having seen the band a few times, I always knew them as this dynamic folk metal band. This show was a bit different though; it was rather more mystical and atmospheric than dynamic/energetic so we were a bit buffled as to whether we should cheer along or to close our eyes and give in to the atmosphere. In this sense, Arkona surprised me with their change of style. Nevertheless, some classics such as “Yarilo” and “Goi, Rode, Goi!” were also played but the main focus of the set was the mystic and the dark atmosphere they delivered to the fans.
The best for the last! Finnish humppa metal band Korpiklaani is surely the favorite of many fans. It has been a while since we saw them live since the latest album “Noita” has been released in 2015. So this set was a rather best-of of the band with quite the colorful set. The band opened their set with “Happy Little Boozer”, which is an old classic! From the beginning to the end, the bond between the audience and the band was really strong and dynamic; as with all Korpiklaani shows, the mainman Jonne was in his good mood and very interactive with the audience. One surprise was seeing Jesper Anastasiadis (TURISAS) in the bass duties; he did a great job and it almost felt like he was a part of the band! Apart from this, the great harmony between the accordions and the fiddle has always been a huge highlight for me in Korpiklaani shows and this show was the top moment; the energy between the two players Sami Perttula and Tuomas Rounakari was spectacular and has become the essential part of Korpiklaani shows!
Throughout the show, the band played the songs from the latest album but it was rather the classics that kept the mosh pit going around and the fans entertaining. Some faves such as “Wooden Pints”, “Cottages and Saunas” and of course the classics “Vodka” and “Beer Beer” were played during the set. One highlight was the surprise the band delivered the fans; as Jonne stated, the band is currently working on their upcoming album and the band made a nice gesture by playing one of the new songs from the upcoming album! Apparently, the band has been really happy with how it turned out and so they wanted the fans to hear it as well. It sounded as a fun and classic Korpiklaani song to us so let’s see how the rest of the album is like! Overall, I can say that the band got better each time I saw them live. From the dynamic of the line-up to the songs (old or new, it doesn’t matter), they are one of those bands that you wanna see at a festival or on a tour like this….. the superstars of folk metal indeed!
Text: Basak Günel
Photos: Heavy Harlequin