GIG REVIEW: MANEGARM, SKYFORGER & EREB ALTOR Live at Little Devil, Tilburg, NL
Over the years, many great bands have played small gigs in the Little Devil bar in Tilburg. From space rock to doom, black, death and folk metal, the Little Devil hosts it all. We went to see the Swedish folk metal veterans Månegarm ply their art, supported by Latvian pride Skyforger and fellow Swedes Ereb Altor. The bill promised an evening of both raising your drinking horn and growling at life.
Ereb Altor opened the gig with what seemed to be pretty solid if very cliché folk metal. The main vocalist, while he had a nice growling scream on him, was clearly uncomfortable in his clean vocals with their wavering tone, in turn making for uncomfortable listening. However, when the bassist and guitarist joined in for harmonies, I got the strange paradox that the main vocals were still painful, but the harmony was lovely. When Ereb Altor’s two vocalists got their chance to do short solo interludes, it was obvious that both have lovely voices, making me wonder why they don’t sing all the time. The main vocalist’s screams were only properly displayed in an oddly folk-infused black metal song which was by far the most interesting of their whole set.
Next, Skyforger took the stage. They were one man short this evening, as one guitarist couldn’t perform. This did not hamper their performance too much, for someone who has never seen these guys storm a stage before though. I heard from fans of these Latvians that the missing guitar player normally tended to add the more folk-inspired riffs to the mix of very solid rock n’ roll songs, adding a strong ‘Pagan ritual’ vibe. The vocals were cool too, sometimes reminiscent of Lemmy in the gruffness of guitarist Pēteris Kvetkovskis, while both the cleans and screams were provided by bassist Edgars “Zirgs” Grabovskis. These guys clearly had some fans as the room was filled, and the front row entirely consisted of their fellow countrymen who had traveled from afar to see their favorite band. With their strong, catchy songwriting and impassionate live performance, their show was a memorable one.
Finally, Månegarm squeezed onto the small Little Devil stage. For the first half of the set, their sound leaned more towards Swedish black metal, but with more punch from their Death metal influences. There were folksy guitar lines weaved into their sound, but the first half of their setlist was definitely more ‘Metal’. The crowd loved it, with a few pits and even crowd-surfers erupting from the fray. The vocals were most impressive – both cleans and screams – and their drummer deserves a special mention for keeping the momentum going so well. About midway through the hour-long set, the second guitar player switched to a violin, which is when the real folk elements came in as the band launched into a surprisingly beautiful, melancholic folk ballad that created an atmosphere of a mead hall in the small venue. So far, the two sides of this band’s coin had not been mixed yet, but the continuation of their set saw them unifying these two elements in a very capable way that finally showed this veteran band’s true prowess.
Bottom Line: This was a night of duality between Black Metal and Folk Metal sounds that only got expertly weaved together by headliner Månegarm after the first half of their set.
Check out our Photo Gallery of the gig here!