Concert Review: Finntroll, Blackguard + Metsatöll at The Palladium in Worcester, MA
It’s a relatively rare occurrence when folk metal bands come to New England and it’s not the dead of winter, with fans freezing their asses off. So, it was most welcome to hang around in forty-plus degree weather rather than four degrees when Finntroll dropped in with some impressive supporting acts in tow. Oh, and there were guys in chainmail, leather armor, and kilts folk dancing in the mosh pit. With that mental image, let’s get started.
Hailing from Estonia, Metsatöll brought their folk-infused metal to the stage first. Their sound is most unique, and they had a massive following of fans in the audience. Complementing the killer guitar riffs and striking melodies was multi-instrumentalist Lauri “Varulven” Õunapuul who was often playing two flutes and the bagpipes at the same time. Metsatöll’s expert use of classical instruments alongside pounding metal is a lesson to any and all up-and-coming folks bands.
Blackguard has a well-deserved reputation for firing up a crowd. While the band has moved beyond their folk roots into more epic metal territory in recent times, they were still a fine fit on the bill. Mixing old and new songs alike, including material from their upcoming record Storm, Blackguard kept up the energy. Frontman Paul Ablaze runs around like he’s on fire, and he pulled countless fans onstage to headbang alongside him for a few bars before diving back into the crowd. After belting out crowd favorite “This Round’s On Me,” Blackguard surprisingly ended with the high-speed “Firefight,” which they often use as an opener. Nevertheless, it was fine choice for their finale.
Along comes Finntroll, aptly dressed as trolls. (Well, with long ears reminiscent of World of Warcraft elves, but you get the idea.) After launching into the title track from their recent Blodsvept record, Finntroll’s setlist read like a litany of most fans’ personal favorites (including myself). Don’t ask me to pronounce the song titles, lest a horde of angry Scandinavians hunt me down for butchering their native tongues. Anyway, tracks from across Finntroll’s catalog, like “Solsagan,” “En mäktig här,” and “Häxbrygd” sounded fantastic due to the great songwriting and performance as well as the excellent live mix. The keyboards actually didn’t overpower the guitars (or vice versa), which is indeed rare.
What made the show even more entertaining is that while the musicianship is serious, Finntroll clearly has a ton of fun performing. Vocalist Mathias “Vreth” Lillmåns danced around the stage, demanding that the crowd do the same. Shout-along sections of “Under bergets rot” and other pieces kept the fans going nonstop. Most of the mosh pit was either everyone falling in the same direction, or huddling up and jumping around in circles before colliding with other groups. (Or simply flying apart.) In other words: great fun for the whole family! Finntroll finished things off with an encore comprised of “Nattfödd” and “Trollhammaren,” the latter of which fans loudly shouted for the moment Finntroll initially left the stage.
Oh, we’re not done.
The Palladium has two stages: upstairs and downstairs. Occasionally, the venue will have both stages in use simultaneously, most notably during the annual New England Metal and Hardcore Festival. Usually, both events are somewhat related. Not so this time around; while Finntroll and company played up top…there was a “foam and glow” dance party downstairs.
Yeah, I wish I was kidding.
Both Blackguard and Finntroll thought it would be hilarious if the crowd simply went downstairs to join the party after the show, and to be honest…I almost wish that would have happened. Can you imagine a throng of black-clad, amped-up metalheads barreling into a crowd of neon-outfitted college kids bouncing around to dubstep du jour? Well, at least the suds would help wash off the beer and sweat.
But I digress. The real point is that Finntroll and friends put on one hell of a show. If folk metal’s your bag, then get off your duff and check out the remaining tour dates right here.