By my reckoning it's been about eight years since Finnish pagan Metallers Moonsorrow played in the UK. I think their epic doom laden take on folk and Pagan Metal works really well on album but I had never seen them play indoors before so I was curious as to how it would work in an intimate setting. I say intimate but Stylus in Leeds turns out to be a nicely set out and pretty big room in the bowels of Leeds University's Student Union.
The acoustic pagan music that had been playing over the PA set the tone nicely so the band made their entrance without any great fanfare and launched into the title track of their latest album 'Jumalten Aika'. This a song typical of their style, twelve minutes plus of intense, epic metal. The sound takes a little while to firm up but even at full throttle it's noticeable to me that the melodic side of what they do really comes to the fore live.
Of course they are fiercely heavy but the three vocalist attack they use doesn't sound as raw live and Markus Euren's keyboards add a sense of grandeur to everything.
Article continues below...
As the set progresses they mix up new and old material but 'Suden Tunti' (introduced as their 'commercial' song) with it's seven minutes of crushing riffery goes down just as well as older material like the monumental soundscape that is 'Raunioilla'.
In truth I'm not sure that there are more than a few die hard Moonsorrow fans in tonight's respectably sized crowd but despite that and songs which are so long that they can only fit in eight to a ninety minute set, you can just see the audience getting more and more into their sound as the set progresses.
It is more about the music than the band's personalities but they all look the part and aren't afraid to get some clapping or singing going when they can. Between songs (which isn't a lot of time!) they show that they do have a dry sense of humour too. When someone shouts for a particular song bass player Ville Sorvali shuts them down with "We are not a jukebox, we are Moonsorrow!"
By the time they finish with the inevitable fifteen minute epic in 'Sankaritarina' the audience is right with them. Moonsorrow's sweeping grandeur is not the easiest Metal to reproduce live but tonight they made it look easy and showed that they have a style and substance all their own. It doesn't matter that they are singing in their native language, in any country where Metal fans are they can feel exactly what these guys are all about.