Pick Your Rock and Metal

Monday, May 02, 2016

LIVE REVIEW: Finland brings the party to Belfast in a folk metal fest courtesy of Moonsorrow and Korpiklaani

LET'S face it the words folk and metal should not, in a sane universe, be used in the same dimension let alone in the same sentence. Folk - that's earnest men in aran sweaters with acoustic guitars and weird English accents. Metal - well that's us.

Add in a liberal dose of 'Finland' and nothing would have made sense of this to the progenitors of heavy metal and fans of metal in the 70s and 80s.

But, when those of that vintage stumble upon this alternate dimension there is nothing else to do, but smile, raise a glass and join in the fun.

Fun is such a small word, and when Moonsorrow and Korpilaani roll into Belfast on the latest leg of their Finnish Folk Metal Mafia tour fun grows from just three letters to a Sunday night Limelight2 full on party as smiles and cheers mingle amidst a swirl of the most positive emotions.

Moonsorrow take to the stage first and it is fair to say that ahead of the event many of the audience would not be as familiar with their material, but within a few chords there was no doubt that they won over many new fans.

Despite being self-avowed pagan metallers the synth lines add the folk elements above the all-out aural attack. Latest release 'Jumalten Aika' features throughout the set. Eight plus songs over 90 minutes might seem like overlong songs, but not one seems like too much.

Ville is a commanding front man, and the entire band provide their own coherent contribution to the set, including some witty to and fro with the audience.

As they conclude with the chug and roll of 'Sankaritarina' there is a clear sense of welcome from the crowd to the band. Pagan, black, folk, battle metal, or whatever it is simply great.

As to Korpiklaani, this is their second Belfast show in less than 18 months, and as they are about to take to the stage there is a sense of anticipation. In their previous incarnation, the band like Moonsorrow used synth sounds. Now, the accordion and electric fiddle not only give the band different tones, but provide three-dimensional visual elements to compliment Jonne as the focal point.

Songs come fast at the audience, prompting joy amongst those fortunate to be in attendance. Despite the fact that many of the songs are in their native Finnish, the crowd is familiar with the tracks, and the energy from the stage translates into unprompted cheers, movement and some of the weirder dances ever seen in Belfast's Ormeau Avenue.

It is a pure party and, of course, alcohol features in the closing trio of songs that see the audience joining in with (slightly slurred) vigour. 'Wooden Pints', Vodka' and 'Beer Beer' are the perfect conclusion.

Folk metal? Who cares what it means, or does not mean. We stepped into the parallel universe, took the red pill, slipped down the rabbit hole and found it was fun.

Review by Jonny
Pics by Darren
Reproduction of review and/or pictures only by prior written permission.

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