Eluveitie released their latest album, Evocation II: Pantheon, in mid-to-late 2017 and have been on tour ever since. They graced Finland with two stops – the first one being in Jyväskylä – and we checked out the latter gig at Nosturi, Helsinki, on the 15th of December.
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Eluveitie has been a favorite with a lot of festivals and festival-goers – including those in Finland – but I’ve never had the inclination to catch a full gig before this one, since in the past my knowledge and interest towards folk metal has never been very high, but since the discovery of bands such as Nine Treasures and Tengger Cavalry, it has been fully piqued.
Due to some scheduling conflicts, I arrived a bit late after the warm-up act had already started, but still managed to catch around two thirds of the set. Silent Circus was an interesting choice for opener, since at a glance it holds none of what makes Eluveitie popular. It sounds very trendy with an extremely contemporary sound and production. Technically the band was perfect: their mixing was superb with nothing too loud or too low, mid-song rises of bass used to punctuate particular segments, and the microphone technique used by their lead vocalist, Peter Haller, was absolutely fantastic, yet there was nothing particularly exciting or interesting going on. By emphasizing technical perfection over ambience and – for lack of a better word – soul, it felt like they lost something on stage. Listening to their albums after their set seems to confirm that particular gut feeling. Somehow everything was only skin-deep, from the way the smoke was deployed to how they tried to organize a wall of death, which was comically undersized due to a lack of enthusiasm in the audience. Silent Circus all-in-all feels like one of those bands that some corporate suit wants to make money out of; putting together a group of individuals based on their CVs and hoping for an acceptable return of investment; this particular gut feeling, however, I’d like to be wrong about.
Eluveitie, on the other hand, managed to pull in one hell of a crowd that was visibly/audibly more into this particular nonet. It would seem hard to fit nine people on stage with a billion different instruments, but with rehearsed ease everyone fit into their spot on stage. Starting off with “Your Gaulish War” from Spirit (2006), this juggernaut of folk metal was underway. Instantly noticeable was the much rougher sound, probably because balancing nine performers and a whole lot of instruments is nigh-on impossible. Comparatively more unpolished than their predecessor, but transcending mere technicalities, Eluveitie’s music was more of a delight to listen to. Ambience being the word of the day, Eluveitie could surely use some. The lack of smoke and atmosphere during “Artio” (from Evocation II) was profoundly mystifying, and the atrociously tone-deaf light show didn’t help matters much. These secondary annoyances aside, there really wasn’t much to complain about the show. The music was uniquely their own and the performers entertaining, all of those
weird traditional instruments playing their tunes and the venue easily on-board with little to no encouragement from the band itself.
In conclusion, I’m having a hell of a time trying to think of things to say about Eluveitie. It’s definitely not my type of music, but I cannot deny that their live sets are damn good. The secondary and tertiary issue nitpicks aside, they are extremely solid live performers with an interesting historical niche theme. My final and pettiest nitpick of the evening is the point where frontman Chrigel Glanzmann called “Epona” (again from Evocation II) a pagan gospel. Gospel – according to Dictionary.com – is the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, thus being fundamentally incompatible with paganism. You’ll have to figure out another, more kickass word for pagan sermons, Mr. Glanzmann.
1. Your Gaulish War
11. The Call of the Mountains
12. A Rose for Epona
13. Kingdom Come Undone
18. Inis Mona
Photos: Janne Puronen