Concert Review: Paganfest America Part III at the Palladium in Worcester, MA
The folk metal-focused Paganfest America Part III tour recently kicked off, making a stop at the Palladium in Worcester, MA on March 20, 2012. Seven bands performed that night, giving all those in attendance some serious headbang for their buck.
Before the show proper, a few local bands hit the stage. The Flooding are a post-metalcore band that was playing as the doors opened, but they sounded rather generic. The next band, a technical metal outfit known as Aversed, was a notable improvement…but the show still didn’t feel like it had truly begun. Wilderun, on the other hand, were the big surprise of the night. American folk metal bands are considerably more rare than their European counterparts, but this Boston band made up for the deficiency. Not only did Wilderun’s impressive songwriting and skill immediately capture the fans’ attention, but they managed to keep all eyes forward throughout their ten-minute-plus songs. Apparently, this was also their very first show! Keep an eye on Wilderun: they are destined for greatness.
With the local slots done, it was time for Huntress to perform. Frontwoman Jill Janus has gotten a bit of flak for her status as a former Playmate, but make no mistake: Huntress is not just another “band with a girl in it.” Janus can wail with the best of ’em, and Huntress’ NWOBHM-tinged thrash hit all the right notes with the crowd. Huntress may not sound like your expected folk metal, but their fantasy- and occult-styled lyrics resonated with the metalheads all the same.
Following them was Arkona, making their hotly-anticipated return to the Palladium. Hailing from Russia, the band has a very unique take on folk metal, steeped in their homeland’s history and traditions. Arkona’s folk melodies truly sound like nothing else out there, making their performance all the more memorable. Masha Scream and crew wasted no time in playing their hearts out, and in between creating Walls of Death and belting out anthems on the bagpipes, Arkona’s show was fantastic.
Next up was Alestorm. “True Scottish Pirate Metal,” indeed. Okay, so they didn’t exactly wear costumes or force fans to walk the plank, but their hard-partying and hard-drinking folk metal charged up the crowd all the same. Alestorm stirred up the most vicious pits of the evening, and even if you hate the pirate fad, these guys deserve massive credit for having the balls to perform with a keytar.
Finally, after a ridiculous forty-five minute stage change and sound check, Turisas made their appearance. This is the Finnish band’s first headlining tour, and any doubts of its success were dispelled by the sold-out crowd. Turisas’ current album Stand Up and Fight features a full orchestra and choir, which naturally wouldn’t fit on a tiny stage. However, the band played each and every song as if those musicians were right there with them. Aside from playing a mix of new and old songs for the densely packed Palladium, the warpainted warriors’ set featured some unique performances, including an extended violin solo and a laid-back version of “One More.” Other high points of their show included “Hunting Pirates” (which is not about Turisas chasing down Alestorm with swords) and the sing-along title track from Stand Up and Fight. The night finished with a rousing encore with the crowd favorite “Battle Metal.” A fine cap to stunning show, to be sure.
With at least four bands on the bill (more if local openers are featured), Paganfest America Part III is a great deal for an evening of heroic metal. If you’re a fan of any or all of the featured bands, get off the couch, get in the crowd, and be ready to shout yourself hoarse.