Live at The Glass House

Downtown Pomona, CA

February 18th, 2011

Review and photos by Travis Baumann

Eluveitie return to North America and this time as a headlining act, which those of us who have been baptized in their new wave of folk metal have been waiting for. I am a long time fan and have seen them perform twice before.

On the first round they were one of the best bands involved with the first American Paganfest tour, and instantly gathered a following of new fans. The next time I saw them, they were opening for Amon Amarth, a fantastic example of Viking and Black Metal combined. Eluveitie shined with their shorter set and left us all wanting more.

On this night, an hour drive from Los Angeles proper (three and a half on this Friday night-rush hour commute), they were playing The Glass House. I have only been to Pomona once before for a concert, and this was at a location a block away. So a new venue, and for me relatively unknown opening acts.

Despite a harrowing drive in the rain, difficulty finding a drink in town before the show, a delayed club opening, and three supporting bands I was unfamiliar with, the moment Eluveitie started playing, I knew why all of that was worth it.

Eluveitie are, as they call themselves, "the new wave of folk metal" and to those of us familiar with folk metal, this is an understatement. Eluveitie are THE most powerful and fulfilling neo-folk metal band I have heard yet.

I am slightly differentiating this from other Pagan Metal in terms of the Folk and Pagan side and then Viking Metal. The reason for this is two fold. Folk music often uses melodies and instruments from medieval times as well as ancient languages to effectively cross centuries worth of time barriers with music and connect with an inner listener that is timeless. Viking Metal is powerful but frequently conventional metal music with Viking inspired lyrics and motifs.

Eluveitie not only bring an intense vibe to "traditional" folk music with the acoustic outputting as experienced on the album "Evocation", but then build an intense metal element into both the songs and the live performance.

I was not really impressed with the venue, but the audience that filled the space made up for it with intense energy and love for the awesome blending of ancient and futuristic music styles into a communal expression that transcends eras.

Eluveitie are an ensemble consisting of eight players. They have two guitarists, a bassist, and a drummer that fulfill the headbanging metal elements, and then they have equal strength in medieval era instruments thrown into the mix.

They have a woman playing fiddle, another woman playing the hurdy gurdy, a tall bearded man playing lutes, pipes, and bagpipes alternately and finally you have the lead singer who plays the Mandolin, the Mandola, and various pipes and lutes while also being the focal point of the band and giving a rough, warrior's growl to the vocal delivery.

Their set was exactly what I hoped it would be. They opened with powerful aggression, flowed into an awesome acoustic center piece, and then moved step by step back up to a battlefield by the climax of the main set.

The girl playing the hurdy gurdy was the primary singer for the acoustic section of the set and she also played an important role on some of the metalized material as well, but for the most part the vocals were extremely harsh and growled, ranging in languages from English to ancient Celtic tongue and some Latin too.

They hit all of my favorite songs of theirs including "Blood Stained Ground", "Gray Sublime Archon", "Thousandfold", the awesome "Inis Mona", "Slanias Song", "Omnos", "Quoth the Raven" which is my favorite song of theirs ever, "Kingdom Come Undone", "(Do)Minion" my second favorite song of theirs, "A'ndro", "Uis Elveti", and many more.

It was truly a great set. I think Eluveitie are amazing live, they incorporate an energetic Celtic dancing vibe with an aggressive blast of metal. They dominated the audience with their charismatic exuberance and the mosh pit was simply insane. The lead singer instigated that heavily by getting them to split into two sides, screaming, "On four, I want to see Braveheart!" and the crowd rushed each other in a mad mob.

Eluveitie remain one of the premiere Pagan-Celtic-Folk bands out there, and there are quite a few once you have opened your eyes to the genre. This was by far the best time seeing them, their talent is immense, no matter which musician you watch, you are blown away by their skill. Combine that and you have something unparalleled.

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