Live at The House of Blues, Hollywood, CA 05/08/2008 as part of Pagan Fest USA

Review by Travis Baumann

For the awesome Pagan Fest tour, Eluveitie were second up on the running order. As the large group took the stage they each carried their instruments with them, the drummer being the only exception.

A woman with a violin and a another with a hurdy gurdy came first followed by two guitarists, a bass player, a guy with a set of bag-pipes, and the lead singer with a mandolin.

As the lead singer approached the mic he said "We are going to play some folk music" to which everyone cheered. They broke into amazing songs, the blend of all of the traditional instruments with the modern really lending itself to another genre of music in and of itself.

To say they are a dynamic band would be quite an understatement. The members of the band moved all over the stage and whipped around, especially the bag-piper who for subsequent songs switched to all sorts of other lutes and pipes, dancing around like some sort of mad piper or faun.

The lead singer would also switch to different pipes or play mandolin in addition to singing. He is a very talented guy and was always picking up or putting down an instrument.

For these first songs they had a much less harsh delivery than on CD, especially the vocals. It reminded me of all my favorite European neo-folk bands like In Extremo or Subway to Sally.

On one song the woman playing the violin sang which was a nice change and the only female led song of the evening. She had a good voice that mixed well with the hybrid of instruments.

After about four or five songs the singer then announced "Now for the violence" and they broke into their more standard fare with harder guitars and more death metal style of vocals. Everyone in the band was head-banging and flying around, including the hurdy gurdy player which is the first time I have witnessed that.

I would have to say that aside from Turisas, who are amazing and maybe the best Viking style Pagan metal act I have ever seen, these guys were the high light of the show.

I only have the newest album, "Slania" which is really good and I recognized maybe a third of the songs of the set but as I said the first batch of songs were done quite a bit differently than on CD anyway and I was caught up in all the spectacle of the ensemble.

I spoke briefly with the two brothers and the lead singer after they played at the Pagan Fest as they were wandering in the crowd and hanging out to watch Turisas and Ensiferum. They were super nice and really appreciative of complements on their performance.

Shortly after this show I read the unfortunate news that the two brothers with all the tattoos and curly long hair were leaving the band. One of them was the bag-piper and the other played bass and sang back up so it was quite a blow, they seemed integral parts of the band. The founder, the lead singer, has already found new members for this next tour, however so the band will go on.

I really do recommend looking into these guys if you are interested in a new facet of metal music. I would personally love to see them put out a CD with the mellower folk style that they began the show with as that was honestly the best stuff I have ever heard by them. It was a nice surprise and the only portion of the entire evening that approached what is a common-place style in Europe.

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