Finally getting around to posting this. December has been rather weird - I managed to make myself feel overworked even though I didn't really have much on my plate, and as a result got almost nothing done. Going to have to plan better for January! Anyway, here's my review of the Finntroll show near the beginning of the month. Luckily I made some notes a few days after the show, otherwise I would have no idea what to say by this point.
So we already caught Finntroll and the other touring bands (as well as more awesome locals) on the first tour stop, but when we found out they were going to be hitting Cafe 611 in Frederick, we had to be there as well, cause Finntroll was sure to tear that place apart! And I'm sure glad we went, cause I had a much better time at this show than at the first one.
We tried to be there early, because like at the first show, a great line-up of local bands was opening. We got there about 7:30, and I went inside just in time to catch the last half, or third, or something of Burning Shadows's last song. I was just getting my layers off (it had snowed the day before) and was just getting into their thundering power metal riffs when they finished and bade the crowd good night :(
As soon as I got inside, I saw that band wasn't set up on the usual tiny stage, but on the left side of floor, spreading into the room back where the second (rarely open) bar is. We had wondered how Finntroll was going to fit on that tiny stage. Now it turned out that apparently they were going to share the floor with us instead :D
The next local band to come on was Demiz, a death metal band from Baltimore. I saw them open for The Agonist over the summer and had been trying to catch them again since then. They got me headbanging with their fast blackened death metal sound. The vocals were indecipherable, and I didn't catch any song titles. My favorite song of the set was "Last Stand" with its melodic, Amon Amarthy lead. That was the only song with much melody to it, but I picked up their cd afterward (way afterward, just as they were trying to leave), and they sound much more melodic on the cd, with pretty killer solos as well.
Next was another death metal band, March to Victory from Pennsylvania. They played the same songs as all the other times we've seen them: "Deadly Venom," "Funeral Blizzard Beast" (I think I finally got the title right!), "Consumption," "Soulless" and a cover of Death's "The Philosopher." They were not as fast and furious as Demiz but had more of a rumbling groove. My favorite song of the set was "Consumption" with its very headbangable grooves. Unfortunately they didn't have any merch, otherwise I would have gotten a cd.
Like last time, I was most looking forward to Estonian folk metal band Metsatöll - but I missed their first song (I think it was "Küü") because there was drama and I was talking to my brother in the bathroom. (And yeah, that works.) When we came out, they were playing "Kivine Maa." We started out very close to speakers on the left side. It didn't seem that loud, but later my left ear hurt - oops, now I may have destroyed both ears (the other one was already destroyed by listening to an earbud all day at work). Then they played a song about enslaving women or something, which was insidiously catchy. I started jostling H, and a guy in a kilt said, "We can make it that kind of show!" He became the pit boss for the night and kept things nice and folky. After that I think they played "Vaid Vaprust," which is a great song but too slow for moshing, but after that I got in pit. From the middle of the floor, I got to glimpse Lauri "Varulven" Õunapuu playing the kannel, which is a type of zither. (I shook hands with him later and babbled in a pit-drunk way, and got told for calling it "kantele" - "It's kannel. It's Estonian, not Finnish."). Again they ended the set with "Metsaviha Part 2" and it was even more intense this time - maybe because it was a more intimate setting, and I was in the middle of crowd, clapping along and getting mesmerized by the rhythm. Most of Blackguard came onstage to do backing vocals with them, then they went off, then Paul came back on and stayed for the rest of the song. Then they went off. It seemed like a shorter set than at Empire - we couldn't figure out the setlist afterward to compare (even though someone picked up the actual setlist, I don't think they played those songs in that order). For that reason I was a little disappointed, since I had been looking forward to another long set from Metsatöll.
Canadian symphonic/melodic death metal band (and erstwhile folk metal band) Blackguard was on next, and they sounded way better than at Empire. I think they played the same songs as at the first show, but in a slightly different order - I know there was "Wastelands," "Scarlet to Snow," "Northern Storm," "This Round's on Me," "Firefight," and they ended with another new one, "Dying Season." S hurt his nose headbanging in the pit during "Wastelands" - I think he bashed his head right into someone. It was pretty fun to hear a few of their old folk metal songs and get a bit of a folk pit going.
Finally Finntroll came out, in elf ears as at Empire, and with much more ridiculous face paint - the singer had huge swathes of black paint like Abbath of Immortal. I had so much fun during their set, dancing in the pit and pushing people around, but mainly dancing. Empire used to be the place for folk pits, but I think Cafe 611 may be taking over that title; pits at Empire are getting too brutal. People were pretty rowdy at this show, too, but there were a lot more jig circles than crazy melees. The singer of Finntroll commented that we weren't very good at moshing, but we were dancing our butts off :P He called for a wall of death for one song, that was probably the biggest and most brutal pit, but pretty short lived. I still don't recognize many Finntroll songs, but they sounded good. They had less the look of trolls partying in the forest, and more of trolls partying in a small club, probably due to the fact that they were not really on a stage at all, just sort of in a corner of the room. And we found out that the guy who looked kind of un-Finnish was Brandon Ellis of Arsis, filling in on guitar.
So, it was definitely worth it to go see this tour a second time. Besides the fact that we were celebrating my brother's birthday, it was way more fun than the first show. Definitely hope more folk metal acts will hit up Cafe 611 if this is the kind of crowd we can expect.