So, you head out for a metal show on a Saturday night and a fucking renaissance faire breaks out. Seriously, the number of denim metal battle vests were seriously outnumbered by the amount of cloaks, capes and all manner of leather contraptions on display at this show. This is when you know you have entered the realm of pagan metal.
This was an interesting double bill not only in that it was a prime display of larping pagans, but you had two bands from some somewhat non-traditional metal places. Headliner Arkona hails from Russia and Metsatoll is from Estonia. It’s been a theme since this blog started in that metal is a global phenomenon and that it is really force that gives people from disparate locales all over the world a common language and culture to share. Most of the lyrics in Arkona’s songs aren’t in English, but that didn’t act as a barrier at all for the music and the emotion of their performance to connect with the audience.
Arkona brought out a set that showcased their blending of black metal with pagan metal. Their frontwoman, Masha, combined melodic vocals with a very effective black metal scream. Many of their songs center around rhythmic chants and are given that pagan sound with the use of traditional instruments such as bagpipes and various flutes and recorders.
Metsatoll was a band that I wasn’t familiar with at all prior to this evening, but they gave a rowdy performance that put a premium of crowd participation. The entire performance felt like it was taking place in a drunken tavern right after a great victory had been had on the battlefield. I have never seen that many metal head dancing arm-in-arm in the pit during a show in my entire history of seeing shows.