If the words kannel, torupill, and hurdy-gurdy mean nothing to you, you have probably missed out on a night of righteous metal at the Rickshaw Theatre in Vancouver, courtesy of Metsatöll, Týr, and Eluveitie.
Four Estonians walked on stage and made the spectators who had never heard of Metsatöll question everything they knew about music. The first notes played that night came out of Lauri Õunapuu’s hiiu kannel, an instrument that looks like a hand-held vegetable slicer with strings, and sounds like a detuned violin. The quartet launched the evening with their latest single “Külmking” and pulled the crowd in instantaneously with their unconventional instruments, heavy sound, and the gravelly voice of the singer and guitarist Markus Teeäär.
Throughout the night, Õunapuu regaled us with the sound of instruments such as the kannel, the torupill, and flutes, but also made the railings and floor quake with his thunderous voice. He took many by surprise with the stentorian sound coming out of his mouth, which we later got the chance to hear in full force during the magnificent, shiver-inducing song, “Muhu Õud”.
Metsatöll fascinated the increasingly ebullient crowd with their unique folk sound amidst heavy riffs, the cohesive perfection of the entire ensemble, and the allure and magnetism of the rugged singer. Seeing Metsatöll leave so soon was heartbreaking, but Týr was up next and the crowd’s rhapsody was contagious.
I had great expectations for the Faroese band, and they exceeded every one of them. Voices like Heri Joensen’s are hard to come by, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear it being just as silvery live as it is in the studio. The first song they played was “Blood of Heroes” off of Valkyrja, a song with just the right amount of heavy guitar reminiscent of some of metal’s greatest to set the tone for their hour-long set.
Týr played a mix of English and Faroese songs including the very popular “Hold The Heathen Hammer High”, “Tróndur Í Gøtu”, “By The Sword In My Hand”, and “Sinklars Vísa”. The band’s main musical strength is its ability to write songs that make you want to sing at the top of your lungs, and there was nothing quite like the sound of hundreds of people howling, “I will decimate and decapitate those who question the sword in my hand” as loud as they physically could.
Terji Skibenæs and Heri Joensen are serious musicians who enjoy putting their guitar proficiency on display, but the low frequency hero, Gunnar H Thomsen, was the true showman singing with the showgoers, smiling, pointing, inciting the crowd to chant. He made the technical performance less static and much more enjoyable to watch.
The band played excellently and ended a stellar set with their most talked about song, “Shadow Of The Swastika”, before making way for the headliners.
As Eluveitie entered to the sound of the title track of their new album Origins, I was curious to see how the eight members of the band would fit on the cozy Rickshaw Theatre stage. Two makeshift podiums on each side of the drums provided extra space for the ensemble to perform, allowing them to move with relative ease.
Though moving space was scarce, Eluveitie put on one hell of a show. They played numerous songs from their new album, but also played some of their most popular songs, such as “Thousandfold” and “A Rose For Epona”, to give a nod to their faithful fans.
The musical orgy that is Eluveitie is an extraordinary thing to behold. Their live sound is intricate and constantly keeps the showgoers guessing. It is impossible to peel your eyes off of them because there is so much going on, you don’t want to miss a thing. Patrick Kistler made creative use of his surroundings, using amps as his own personal stage on more than one occasion to give the rest of the band some room to breathe, headbang, and deliver a performance that was truly breathtaking. The musicians involved the crowd in their performance by asking attendees to vote on the language in which Anna Murphy should sing The Call Of The Mountains (Swiss-German winning by a large margin), and the band’s main man, Chrigel Glanzmann, invited the edgy crowd to participate in the true metal tradition of the wall of death before the band played “The Nameless”. Eluveitie flawlessly executed their hour and a half long set and after their much anticipated and demanded encore of three songs, the show ended leaving me feeling forlorn and genuinely saddened by my inability to attend any of the remaining dates of the tour.
Some people say that laughter is the best medicine, but I firmly believe that no matter what ails you, an evening in the company of Eluveitie, Tyr, and Metsatöll is the ultimate cure.
Written by Kai Robidas
Photography by Stephany Robidas