While cross-genre denominations such as ‘folk metal’ might seem overplayed – after all, there are hundreds of bands out there trying to draw attention by creating another niche sub-genre in metal – if there is one band out there that embraces such distinction, it’s Switzerland’s Eluveitie.
Blending folk with rock was popular in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and though the metal counterpart may have been invented by seminal band Skyclad, this 8-piece ensemble has certainly achieved something unique, earning them the status of leaders of the “New Wave of Folk Metal.”
On their first visit to Australia, Eluveitie’s eclectic sound manifested itself inside the venue as a cross-section of metal fans mingled and melodic death-heads chinked glasses with pagan or Viking metal followers.
The only disappointment was that violinist Meri Tadic could not travel to our land of plenty due to health related issues. Nevertheless, the band managed to overcome this hurdle quite well.
After a good warm-up offered by Melbourne locals Decimatus and Orpheus, Eluveitie took to the stage and unleashed material from their most recent conceptual opus, Helvetios.
As they weaved through the thicket of songs, intro’s and bridges, the dynamic of the album was reflected in the crowd’s reaction as Eluveitie navigated different moods, tempos and sub-styles.
If the marvellous gem A Rose for Epona touched all present in their hearts, the follow-up with Havoc and The Uprising touched all present in their bodies – literally. That’s because lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Chrigel Glanzmann demanded a dance-floor-wide circle pit, and by that point the band had so absolutely conquered the crowd that his request was promptly – and wildly – followed.
Besides all the excitement, the stand out fact was how this band managed to blend all sorts of different (for metal at least) instruments with heavy music and still make it sound like it fits. Their alternating flute solos, the clever workaround on the absence of the violin, the bag pipes and the unique sound of the hurdy-gurdy (an ancient stringed instrument) were mixed perfectly with the traditional axes and drum attacks.
In fact, owing to the myriad of unusual instruments, and as almost all the solos are played on the flute, it was only during the last song of the set that I really even noticed the guitarists.
The encore, marked by their older material, was received with the same level of enthusiasm by the crowd.
The sweaty end to the show left the folk in high spirits, feeling happy to have seen something truly metal that pushed boundaries and (successfully) tried something new.
Meet the Enemy
A Rose for Epona
Quoth the Raven
Photos by Amped Photography