By: Alex Phillips
City: Minneapolis, MN
Venue: Mill City Nights
Hear Alex’s audio interview with Metsatöll HERE
Minneapolis is kind of a boring city if you have no money. After interviewing Metsatöll, I had four hours to kill before Mill City Nights opened its doors for a throng of metalheads. I ended up watching Seinfeld reruns at a crummy pizzeria around the corner until six, at which point I’d had enough and went to stand in line outside the venue. Fortunately, Atso, Metsatöll’s drummer, was having a cigarette. I can’t emphasize enough how awesome each member of Metsatöll is. (Listen to my interview with them here.) We talked about his appreciation for oldschool thrash and death metal. Metalheads were lining up. Finally Atso said, “We go in now.”
First on the bill: Metsatöll (Estonia). Judging from the audience’s reaction, Metsatöll’s three previous visits to the Twin Cities have paid off big time, in terms of building a fan base. They performed material from the new album, Karjajuht, as well as crowd pleasers “Kuu,” “Kivine Maa,” and “Muhu Oud” from Ulg. They performed older material as well, and their level of intensity and excellent sound mix did not disappoint. Metsatöll sounds good live. But once again the band served as the opening act, notwithstanding the fact that the last two trips through the US and Canada they opened for Korpiklaani and Finntroll, respectively. Metsatöll just didn’t get enough time to showcase the broad range they can bring to bear from six albums’ worth of material. Regardless, the crowd loved Metsatöll, and responded with enthusiastic moshing and an unsolicited wall of death.
It was at this point that I began to notice some of the more unusual folks in the crowd. The woman encased head to foot in skintight leather. The little person kicking ass in the moshpit. The six-year-old girl wearing huge earmuffs and being carried around by her father. Metal shows are really becoming family affairs these days—a trend that I hope will grow.
Second act: Týr (Faroe Islands). This was the third time I’ve seen Týr, and they get better every time. The band performed all their classics—“Hold the Heathen Hammer High,” “By the Sword in my Hand,” “Flames of the Free,” etc.—along with plenty of material from the new album, Valkyrja, their homage to the women of Scandinavian folklore. Speaking of women, it was during Týr’s set that I saw the older ladies in the crowd stage-center at the very front being speckled with the combined sweat of Heri Joenson and Terji Skibenæs. A delight, I’m sure, and a heathen baptism if there ever was one. Needless to say, should you ever choose to convert to the heathen faiths of yore, go see Týr. You will not be disappointed.
The headliner: Eluveitie (Switzerland). I’m not a big fan of Eluveitie, but I was curious to see how an eight-piece folk metal band sound live. My assessment? Not good. They were heavy, yes, and loud. But the sound mix was off. Way off. Eluveitie sounded like a wall of mud through which flutes occasionally shrieked. The vocals came through clearly enough, and the band had a great deal of energy and stage presence. But only during breaks in the overwhelming wall of bass I could make out the violin, hurdy gurdy, and other non-electric instruments. The crowd, however, did not seem to share my opinion, and I can respect the mob’s appreciation for being brutalized by too much bass.
I would not have been saddened to see either Týr or Metsatöll headlining instead.