VOTA REVIEW: Moonsorrow, Northern Oak @ Fibbers, York 21/02/2015

Hail! For the last few years now some smart individuals have been booking pagan metal bands to coincide with the Jorvik Viking Festival in York, which also lands pretty close to my Name Day. Myself and the D&L team went up a few years ago to see a much younger and inexperienced TYR and had a bloody good weekend, hence why I jumped at the chance to see Moonsorrow at a similar one off show, so me and the mrs packed up the car and with the wind at our backs and grey skies above us we headed north across the dales for the ancient settlement of Jorvik.

It turned out that Fibbers had changed venue since the last time we visited York, so our little crawl of some of the most quirky pubs in the UK was cut short as we headed across town to try and find the new location. We did however then manage to settle in to the newly opened Falcon Tap located next to the new venue (which was a really nice pub I might add). I also want to add the new Fibbers is a massive improvement on the old one. As a live music venue goes the old one was more of a nightclub while the new venue is much more geared for live music and had great views and sound from wherever you were stood.

Unfortunately we missed the opening act Sellsword and arrived just in time for Northern Oak. Now I had only heard of this band in passing and had never really sat down and listened to them before, but by the gods was I impressed with them. The use of an actual flute and Violin gave the music some real depth played live and it was nice to see folk instruments used instead of just keyboard samples. The vocal performance from the front man was extremely well executed and reminded me of Jari’s work on the early Ensiferum stuff. Overall the band had a really nice take on the whole Folk metal genre with enough Black Metal influence to stop it coming across as slightly cheesy of beerbandish. Instead it was a heartfelt and energetic live performance and they were a complete joy to watch. If you like bands like Skyforger and Yggdrasil then they are well worth checking out.

As the room descended into darkness and the eerie Intro for ‘1065:Aika’ began, the stage lit with a dull blue light and then out of the smoke came the mighty Moonsorrow. As the main riff and keyboard section kicked in the room exploded into a sea of headbanging. The Finnish Horde had arrived. Now I have only seen Moonsorrow on festival stages in the past but to fully realise what an imposing stage presence the band has you have to see them in a club venue. Almost silhouetted against an addled blue light and clad in messy black, bloodsoaked warpaint the band looked like they had emerged from the depths of some forgotten woodland (and not from the pages of a comic book like Turisas for instance).

I always find Moonsorrow’s music has the ability to put you into an almost trance like state; uplifting you whilst simultaneously sinking you down into darkness. The mood ebbs and flows as much as the songs themselves, which takes the gig to an almost spiritual level, something few bands can do in my opinion. The performance was full of energy and purpose. This was a band who had mastered their craft and who meant business when they took to the stage. The set list was also a very nice mix of tracks spanning most of the bands discography from fan favourites like ‘Kivenkantaja’ and ‘Huuto’ to sprawling sagas like ‘Jotunheim’. The highlight of the evening though was the thirteen and a half minute epic ‘Raunioilla’. What can I say, I just love that song.

Overall, a powerful and inspiring performance from a band who have evolved from their late 90s keyboard heavy Emperor-esque Black metal with the Metsa Demo and created a sound truly unique to them, full of heathen spirit. A live performance absolutely not to be missed, and a great choice in Northern Oak as support. A special thanks to The Baron from Thorcast for the video stills, saving the day in the absence of our photographer. Check out The Hammer of Retribution Ogg-Cast here for more from him. For now, until next year’s festival, York.



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Label - Ektro

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Date - 23rd- 26th March
Venue - Pwllheli, Wales  

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