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Eluveitie, live in London

Support: Arkona, Skálmöld

You love a bit of folk metal. You do. No matter how hard you cling to your Spiritual Healing first-pressing vinyl, you can't help but tap your foot and muster a grin upon the sight of heavily-bearded men having it large to the sound of a hurdy gurdy. Eluveitie are putting cynics to shame tonight – here's the cold, hard facts.

Epic Viking Metal Is Suitably Epic

Iceland’s Skálmöld get the party started in truly inimitable style – their Ensiferum-on-steroids approach to Viking metal coupled with each musician having a pop at vocals (just like The Beatles, mate. Just like The Beatles…) makes for a compelling outing. While all their music is of vast substance, it’s the rollicking Að Hausti and the sprawling, marvellously heavy Með Fuglum – both from new album Með Vættum – that really spark interest. The crowd goes bananas and drummer Jón Geir Jóhannsson wears a grin that could block out the sun. Job done.

Arch Enemy Ain’t The Only Band Packing A Formidable Female

Arkona’s Maria Arkhipova is just a beast. We don’t mean this in a bad way – we just mean that as soon as she scuttles on stage, clad in wolfskin and flailing her limbs about like a spasmodic octopus, we want to hide in a corner and cry until she leaves. Seriously, she could beat Joey DeMaio in a wrestling match just by staring him down. Arkhipova’s screeches are genuinely blood-curdling, but it’s when the band ramp up the polka elements of their sound and she slips into a folky drawl where Arkona hit their stride – less fun than Skálmöld, but on the whole a gruesomely lovely experience.

Eluveitie Deserve This Crowd

Two years on from supporting Sabaton on their Carolus Rex UK jaunt, Eluveitie have returned to London and sold the place out. It’s a quiet victory for one of folk metal’s première acts; as the lights dim and hundreds of metalheads clamber over one another for a decent view, nearly two hours dissipate in a flurry of folk metal thunder.

Airing a huge portion of latest album Origins tonight, the band constantly push the boundaries between folk music and all-out, Gothenburg style death metal. Frontman Chrigel Glanzmann is living evidence of this; screaming his head off one minute and gently blowing through a tiny wind instrument a second later, it seems hilarious in theory but is just pulled off with such conviction that, well, it works. Newies like_ The Call Of The Mountains_ and The Silver Sister go down just as well as older stuff – when Kingdom Come Undone drops, though, collective shit is lost by everyone in the venue. Tied together in a lovely little bow courtesy of Anna Murphy’s gorgeous vocals, this is the sound of a band on the absolute top of their game.

We All Love A Hurdy Gurdy. We Do

It just never gets old.

They’re One Of The Best Folk Metal Bands To Ever Do It

By the time A Rose For Epona inevitably crawls into the tail-end of the set, you can see why Eluveitie are packing out the O2 Academy. This song is a bona-fide anthem, something seldom seen (or sought, mind you) within the realms of folk metal. They may be a bagpipe player down at the moment (to be fair, they still have the hurdy gurdy and violin…), but this seismic eight-piece from Switzerland has never sounded so monstrous. Stereo Kicks, eat your little hearts out.