CONCERT: Moonsorrow/Týr @ Escape, Wien

Artist: Týr/Moonsorrow, supported by Crimfall (tour) and Richthammer (local)
Venue: Escape, Wien, AT
Genre: Pagan Folk Metal/Pagan Black Metal/Symphonic Viking Metal/Blackened Death Metal

Vienna was shaping up to have a blast of an evening with the tour lineup that was announced. Three strong metal acts with varying degrees of pagan leanings, all touring on recently released albums and all producing music that work great in a live atmosphere. Escape, a pub of around 200-capacity in the room downstairs itself, didn’t know what hit it. Moonsorrow and Týr were co-headliners; some may argue that they are different sounds, but, as Mitja and Ville [Moonsorrow] pointed out, pagan metal is not governed by genre stylings but by an atmosphere, which was certainly present at this concert.

Starting things off were local act Richthammer, a blackened death metal band daubed in fake blood and corpse paint who kicked up a right racket. They were fairly cool to watch for a bit, if not completely my style of live performance, and had a couple of amusing gimmicks up their sleeve; the vocalist (Michl) had a Horn Of Gondor knockoff which he blew into the mic at one point, and bassist Stone’s appearance taught me that ginger hair and corpse paint is possibly not the best of combinations. That said, Vienna gave them a warm reception, and several crowd-members were headbanging along with the band. A promising start to the evening, with more fun due from the next act.

Warning, poor audio quality.

After a short while, Crimfall took to the stage and served up a strong set of Finnish symphonic Viking metal. I must confess that I knew very few of the songs from their two albums, but that mattered very little as I was incredibly impressed with the 8 songs I heard, particularly “Shackles Of The Moirai”. The ‘Beauty and the Beast’ vocal trade-off between Helena and Mikko worked well, although the latter dominated some of the songs (as well as being a tower of a man), and the former did some cool joik-esque singing to open “Wildfire Season”. The musicians also gave great performances, and the sound quality was great, taped material mixing in well with live. The lights show was also well-executed, particularly the blue half-light during closer “Silver And Bones”. All of this culminated to a very positive new experience of a band I’ll be sure to check out.

No video of Vienna, instead taken from Berlin date.

With a little delay, Moonsorrow hit the stage and delivered (in my opinion) the best set of the evening, all 75 minutes of it. The opener “Tähdeton” resulted in more hair whirling than a detonated wig factory as the 5 members came out covered in red, and frontman Ville shirtless. All three axemen were up front, keyboardist Markus in the middle and drummer Marko being relegated to the back (Ville made an amusing comment about this). There was little room to move, but the band accommodated well, and the by-now tipsy crowd did all the swaying required. Ville had some amusing anecdotes for introducing the songs (support of ‘proud pagans’ and fighting against oppressive Christians, or the final destruction of the Earth), and his rasp was in fine form, supported chorally by Mitja and Janne. Janne in particular was highly amusing to watch, and sported a great singing voice. From the more uplifting such as “ Sankarihauta” to the somber gloom of “Jotunheim”, each of the 7 tracks were a joy to see. The closer, “Kuolleiden Maa”, was a particular surprise as the lights went neurotic during the black metal sections. Then, one by one, they put down their still-ringing instruments and walked off, leaving the drummer to finish it off. A slightly lengthy outro, but it befit the band. And there was still one band to go.

No video of Vienna, instead taken from Bologna date.

In comparison to the heavy tones of Moonsorrow, Týr were a striking contrast with their uptempo brand of pagan heavy metal. Their style itself is hard to place, but it was certainly fun to watch as they walked out to their opener, the closer of their new album, “The Lay Of Thrym”. The song that followed was incredibly controversial: preceding a speech from Heri about the (false) Nazi accusations the band had received, they played “Shadow Of The Swastika”. In Austria, of all places. Ironic, to say the least, but the rest of their 13-track setlist was a steady pace of fist-pumping metal, including both their famous ‘hammer’ songs. The only track that stuck out was “Hail To The Hammer” from their début, which is a more simplistic affair, if also a Týr classic. The bass dominated during a technical hitch with Terji’s guitar The crowd went completely crazy for “Hold The Heathen Hammer High”, which was quite a sight to see, and could’ve worked well as a closer. The closer instead, “By The Sword In My Hand” was also more than adequate, and had several singing along with the chorus.

No video of Vienna, instead taken from Ljubljana date.

All in all, good clean pagan fun was had at Escape that night, despite some band/crew members feeling worse for wear and some crowd-members possibly feeling it the morning after. However, the music were great and in such an intimate venue (regrettably no photos for proof), the feeling of pagan metal camaraderie was unavoidable. Hope the bands had fun on the rest of the tour!

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