This October London was host to the only UK showing for the Armageddon Tour, headlined by Equilibrium with Heidevolk and Finsterforst as their supports. Having seen Equilibrium before I was rather excited to be going having been two years since Equilibrium have played a show in the UK outside of the festivals and even longer since Heidevolk have done similar here.
Finsterforst were the first band to take to the stage. Having not heard too much from this band bar a few songs prior to the gig I went with an open mind. Well my opinion is that these guys know how to put on a great show and it’s easy to see why they were picked to join the tour. Being a big fan of the folk metal scene I am rather picky when it comes to the genre but I was impressed by the guys.
They’re heavy use of accordion melodies, couple with other instruments not commonly seen in a metal band, such as the tin whistle makes for an interesting and unique sound and variation to a lot of bands. They have memorable riffs and melodies that are incredibly catchy and will have you humming away to yourself on the train home like I did. Well at least it meant no one sat next to me.
The band were a great start to the night and knew just how to get the fans going as they played some of their classic songs such as “Zeit Fur Hass” and “Mach Dich Frei”. They also belted out a couple of their new songs – “Bottle Gods” and I imagine soon to be a classic “YOLO”. They are not only a great band to listen to live, but know how to have fun on stage as they enjoyed interacting with the crowd and I have to say lead singer Oliver Berlin walking back on stage with the light up neon green glasses were a great added touch.
My only disappointment was that I wish they were on for longer, but hopefully this won’t be the only time I see the German metallers live and look forward to the next time they take to a London stage. I recommend if you already haven’t giving these guys a listen as I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed.
Next to take to the stage were the Dutch folk legends Heidevolk who have not been seen outside of the festival circuit here for some time now, so it’s easy to say that I jumped at the chance to be front row for their set. I have to say I have not seen many bands who utilise two lead vocalists, giving them a unique yet equally impressive sound. The pagan folk band who base their songs around famous Germanic myths and legends have an impressive energy and an equally impressive stage presence.
I’ve been a fan of Heidevolk for some time now but had never had the opportunity to see them live until this year. The folk industry has been flooded with several bands over the years but these guys have been a prominent part of it for over 13 years now so it felt great to hear some of their classic hits including “Urth” and even added a few of their English spoken ones such as “Vinland”. It was great seeing the whole of the Underworld moving their arms to “Sakensland” and who doesn’t love it when a band asks the question: “Do you guys like beer?” Being metal fans, you can obviously guess the answer screamed back at them was a resounding “YES!”.
Heidevolk’s aggressive yet traditional sounds are impressive with guitar riffs and bass lines that can make your hair stand on end. Furthermore the guys went on to announce that Heidevolk will be returning next year with a headline tour in Europe, which was certainly met with a positive reaction. To get everyone prepared for Equilibrium they ended their set with fan favourite “Vulgaris Magistralis”.
A fitting end, one that does certainly seem to get a reaction out of the crowd as I must admit there is something rather surreal about a predominantly English speaking crowd singing along in Dutch to this song. All I can say is if you’re a fan of the folk metal genre or metal in general and haven’t given these guys a listen then please do take yourself out from under the rock you are living under and get to listening as they are definitely worth giving blaring out of anyone’s speaker.
Finally we come to the headline act of the night as German metal icons Equilibrium came out on stage to a clearly very eager crowd. As their intro kicked in, the crowd went wild and the guys went straight into “Erwachen”. The German metallers really know how to appease their fans by playing some of their classic tracks including “Blut im Auge” and “Nordheim”. With the band releasing their fifth studio album Armageddon (hence the tour name) earlier in the year, they also delighted our ears with soon to be known as classic hits such as “Prey” and, my personal favourite from the new album, “Born to be Epic”.
I must admit I am a very big fan of frontman Robert Dahn’s vocal style, being able to belt out both the clean and deep vocal styles effortlessly. Having witnessed many bands live where the vocalist covers both the clean and dirty vocals, it can be very difficult to get the right balance between the two and have often heard some very strained and poor examples of this. Equilibrium are definitely not in that category as having seen these guys live twice now, I can say that Dahn’s vocals can certainly get even the most rigid and unmoving metal fan jumping like an idiot.
Whilst the vocals are certainly important, a band is nothing without the musicians banging their heads alongside them. It’s safe to say that Rene and Dom are very talented guitarists and have given Equilibrium riffs that you will end up humming in your head for days. They have a fantastic energy and know just how to react to the fans who gladly fought over any plectrums throw their way from either of them.
Now what is a band without the guy in the back, yes I’m talking about Tuval their drummer. Well no band would be the same without their drummer and Equilibrium are no different as Tuval really deserves more recognition for his skills with the sticks. I fear that many drummers are severely underrated and I do believe Tuval is indeed worth being noted. His drum sound is very enthusiastic and gets your heart beating hard in your chest as his arms are nothing but a blur as he plays on. Proof of this could be seen in the stick I happened to get that night from the set, which have literally split clean in half and had splintered to the point where I’m surprised there was anything left of it.
Finally I have to highlight Equilibrium’s new bassist Makki Solvalt who joined the band earlier this year following Jen Majura’s departure. Now I was a big fan of Jen’s play style and being a bassist myself can be over critical of bassists at times. All I can say is that Makki is a great addition to the band and really does Equilibrium justice. He has a strong playing style and the sound he brought to the new album is certainly worth praising. He, much like the other members of the band, has a great stage presence and knows just how to react to their fans. I honestly do hope that Makki does stay on with Equilibrium for the long termfuture. As this was his first tour with the band, safe to say he definitely does the band justice.
Back to the gig at hand. I can honestly say that Equilibrium had certainly left the bar high following their tour from 2014 so I went to the gig with that bar firmly raised up there. It’s safe to say that not only did they make it to that bar, they pole-vaulted over it, giving me the finger as they did so. These guys really do know how to put on a great show and can make even the smallest venue feel like a festival experience. I just hope I don’t have to wait a further two years for these guys to grace the UK again. If you haven’t had the opportunity to see them yet, then keep your eyes peeled for their next tour as your ears will certainly thank you for attending.