Kiuas / Metsatöll / Celesty
26 October 2010
Camden Underworld, London
A free evening meant a late decision to pop along to The Underworld which turned out to be a wise choice.
First up were Celesty who I’d missed at Bloodstock 2009 due to scheduling clashes.Since then, the Finns have lost rhythm guitarist Tapani Kangas and singer Antti Railio.Kangas has not been replaced, with Tuomas Laasanen of Diesense helping out for live shows.Meanwhile Railio’s replacement is Tony Turunen, brother of former Nightwish singer Tarja.
I’d quite enjoyed Celesty’s last album Vendetta, though at times Railio’s vocals in both sound and structure strayed so near to Tony Kakko, that it sounded too much like a Sonata Arctica copy.There must be a “good vocal gene”, as Turunen proved he was a worthy replacement and has his own sound, which hopefully will put Celesty aside from their fellow countrymen with their next album.
Whilst the sound was good from the start, initially Celesty didn’t look comfortable on stage.Turunen’s English appeared limited, leading to nervy stage introductions and with six members on stage there wasn’t too much room to manoeuvre.However, by the stomping Lord (Of This Kingdom), which veered off into Manowar territory, smiles appeared and Laasanen and lead guitarist Teemu Koskela toasted cans mid song.
Euphoric Dream raced along with a good view of Juha Mäenpää’s playing due to his forward tilted keyboard.Turunen told us it was the band’s first time in London and turned to Koskela to ask “What do you think?”“Very nice”, deadpanned the guitarist, with Turunen joking “About 10%”.
All but Empty Room was taken from that Vendetta album and it was the video track Fading Away that got the best response of the set.Like Warriors wrapped up the set with an outro of a few bars of The Final Countdown.
Autumn Leaves / Greed & Vanity / Empty Room / Lord (Of This World) / Euphoric Dream / New Sin / Fading Away / Like Warriors
Fresh from a photo shoot with Johan, Metsatöll took to the stage with Kui Rebeneb Taevas under less than perfect conditions.KuriRaivo’s bass wasn’t working and Lauri Õunapuu’s torupill (Estonian bagpipes) were missing in the mix.With the bass fixed, the soundman was kept on his toes by Õunapuu with a variety of different instruments.Thanks to childhood music lessons the recorder is not a popular sound for me, but Õunapuu showed it could be played well, even playing two at the same time during Äio.
Frontman Markus Teeäär announced that they would like to dedicate Roju “To all the beautiful women here tonight”.Amusingly this was rather tongue in cheek if you can speak Estonian, or have read a translation of the songs lyrics which include “Dear wifey, dear darling, Your old buffoon has come home, Tired and hungry, The order is to do everything he asks” and “Throw off your skirts, we come down like the tempest!”
There were certainly a number in the crowd who were of Estonian descent, with Teeäär introducing Saaremaa Vägimees in his native tongue to cheers.This marked the point in the set where Metsatöll left their new album and marked a notable increase in the aggression of the tunes and the reaction of the crowd.Õunapuu delighted the crowd by playing his bagpipes behind his head and produced his kannel, which looked like a chopping board with strings, for Sõjahunt.
There was still time for a further instrument with a mouth harp heralding closing song Metsaviha 2 which came at us like Slayer infected with Estonian folk.What had initially looked like it was going to be a disappointment was turned around by Metsatöll and with the interest in folk metal refusing to die down, the future looks bright for Metsatöll.
Kui Rebeneb Taevas / Tuletalgud / Vaid Vaprust / Äio / Nüüd Tulge, Mu Kaimud / Roju / Saaremaa Vägimees / Sõjahunt / Instrumental / Sajatus / Metsaviha 2
Little were we to know that tonight we were witnessing Ilja Jalkanen’s last gig as frontman of Kiuas.Apparently there is no bad blood and it’s simply that Jalkanen’s heart is no longer in heavy metal, though you wouldn’t have guessed it as he ended his time with the band on a high.
After a heroic intro tape, Kiuas started strongly with a one-two of Of Ancient Wounds / Of Sacrifice, Loss and Reward. Again there were some sound issues with Mikko Salovaara’s guitar low in the mix. Salovaara is a very accomplished player, though the fact that Kiuas only have one guitar meant the sound is often quite thin when he embarks on his solo runs, even with Atte Tanskanen’s keyboards filling out the sound.The two combined later in the set for a short solo section, which was almost a duel and worked better than the usual traditional style.
By Of Love, Lust and Human Nature, the sound balanced and Kiuas fittingly began To Excel and Ascend. That song saw Jalkanen mix in a few death style vocals, but whilst the music often leans towards Children Of Bodom, particularly The Spirit of Ukko, vocally Jalkanen retains a strong clean vocal.
It’s not just a vocalist but a frontman Kiuas will be replacing and Jalkanen is a strong one. Something of a motor mouth, Jalkanen pretended to forget the name of his band to incite a chant of Kiuas.Though my favourite song intro, for the ballad Lights Are Many, had Jalkanen declare in quick fire fashion, “This is a song about love, unrequited or fulfilled. Between a man and a woman, man and a man, woman and a woman or catholic priest and a little boy.We don’t judge as long as you are happy.As long as you have a lighter and the ceiling isn’t too low or the place is over insured.”
Jalkanen & Salovaara sat on the stage during that song as lighters and mobile phones were waved. By contrast The Visionary kicked in with a bombastic symphonic intro and added a different pace to the set. Fans of the earlier albums still had the likes of Race With The Falcons and Warrior Soul to send them home happy.
Kiuas have noted that Jalkanen was not key to the band’s song writing, but he still leaves big shoes to fill.
NOTE: It has since been confirmed that Ilja will perform a farewell gig with Kiuas in Helsinki in January 2011. The exact date and venue will be announced later.
Of Ancient Wounds / Of Sacrifice, Loss and Reward / Cry Little Angel / Of Love, Lust and Human Nature / To Excel and Ascend / The Spirit of Ukko / Lights Are Many / The Visionary / Race with the Falcons / The Decaying Doctrine / Warrior Soul / Across the Snows