A few minutes after 8 pm, Skálmöld from Iceland (even if they were announced as a Swedish band on the ticket) entered the stage. The six men (with three guitars and keyboards) were playing songs from their three CDs, although most of them came understandably from the actual release ‘Med Vaettum’. I was surprised that the venue was already quite crowded at this early moment. People seemed to be familiar with the sound of Skálmöld as the band got a positive response from the beginning to the end. The lyrics in Iclandic language created already a slightly exotic sound, but Skalmöld had far more to offer than just this gimmick. The volume inside the Kulturfabrik was quite loud and the decibel display didn’t work. The music was quite brutal, but the musicians always found some time for more melodic and folky moments. Most of the vocals done by Björgvin Sigurdsson are growls that are fitting to the heavy sound. But sometimes two other members are also contributing some shrieks and cleaner vocals. The stage presence was well studied and the musicians had always been trying successfully to communicate with the audience. By the way, Luxemburg’s most popular Icelander Thorunn Egilsdottir wasn’t among the audience
The Skalmöld performance had been great, but I was still looking more forward to Arkona from Russia, surely one of my favourite folk metal bands. Contrary to Skalmöld, Arkona were not dressed in black, but opted for medieval dresses that were fitting to the music. Another difference was the use of traditional instruments like flutes, bagpipes, zhaleikas, balalaikas and some more. The centre of attraction surely was singer Maria Archipowa, a metal pendant to Maria Sharapowa. Especially the wolf skin about her body was looking tremendous. I wouldn’t be surprised if she had killed the beast with her own teeth and hands. If you are familiar with The Songs Of Fire And Ice, be sure that the Kingslayer would have called her a wench. Not only her look was impressing, her voice had so many facets (growls, shouts, harsh voice, clear voice,…) that Angela Gossow could have become jealous. But her musicians supported her well with cleverly arranged song structures. The balance between metal riffs and pagan moments was an optimal choice. Most folk elements came from the Balkan, but there had also been some more Celtic sounding tunes. Again the sound was a bit too loud so that I preferred to watch the whole spectacle further away from the stage.
Eluveitie from Switzerland had been this evening’s headliners and now nearly everyone of the more or less 700 spectators was inside the main venue. But I had to admit that it wasn’t Eluveitie that made me move to the Kulturfabrik. Skálmöld had been great and Arkona even far better (surely one of the most exciting acts I ever witnessed at the Kulturfabrik), but I had some trouble to get into the sound of the eight Swiss. The band follows two rather different directions that are only difficult to match. The songs with Christian Glanzmann on vocals are strongly death metal influenced while the songs with Anna Murphy on vocals rather go into a Celtic direction. The instrumentation wasn’t bad at all and the use of traditional instruments like hurdy gurdy, violins, pipes, harps and many more gave the music an interesting touch. But there were three points that were strongly disturbing to me: 1) I just prefer the songs by Skálmöld and Arkona. 2) The volume inside the venue had even become louder. 3) The incoherence between the two Eluveitie styles. Most people were nevertheless enjoying the show that was surely a success for Eluveitie. Nevertheless, I preferred having some beers with two Skalmöld musicians close to the bar. The show was supposed to end at 23:45, but I decided to go home half an hour earlier as I had to do my day job the day after. Congratulations to the KuFa team for this great show. I’d like to see some more mature metal events (not only kiddie metalcore) in the future!