Archive for the ‘Folk Metal’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: Go_A “SHUM” (Ukraine, Eurovision Entry 2021).

Eurovision 2021 is upon us. It’s hard to follow Eurovision in the States, but you can see highlights and most official entries online.

I have been rather enjoying the folk metal genre, especially as practiced by Eastern European bands.  So I was pretty fascinated to hear about Go_A [Ґоу_Ей].

The name Go_A is meant to mean “return to the roots” and was made by combining the English word “Go” with the Greek letter “Alpha.”  There’s four members: Kateryna Pavlenko, Taras Shevchenko, Ihor Didenchuk and Ivan Hryhoriak

Lead singer Kateryna Pavlenko has a pretty fascinating backstory (if Wikipedia is to be trusted, and when is it not?).  [The entire quote is (sic)].

Due to unsatisfactory living conditions, she developed lung disease. As a teenager, she underwent several surgeries, including surgery to remove a lung tumor. After that she can’t sing in the traditional way. “The sound is not formed in my lungs or bronchi, because there is not much space there, but somewhere here (points to the back of the head). This is especially true of high notes, ”she said.

Her voice is quite striking–surprisingly powerful.  In the video, she looks as striking as her voice.  She’s dressed in an awesome leather jacket with a black dress.  She’s got some kind of metal(?) thing on her face–I can’t determine what it is., aside from cool-looking.

The song opens with a repeated unearthly sound–a kind of siren.  She starts singing in powerful Ukrainian as menacing chords emerge.  Then the song pumps along.

Once again the video is pretty spectacular as the band is driving in a kind of Munsters meets Mad Max truck.  The song is loud and fast with some big distorted guitars.

And before you know it, the song breaks and there’s a tin whistle solo and a jaw harp keeping pace (!).

In the middle of the song her voice sounds a bit less harsh as the music builds and fills in.  And then a throbbing bass bounces along to the tin whistle.  And after a beat the drop kicks in and the song is now twice as fast.

The video is pretty entertaining–the “story” is fun to watch, anyhow.  But as the song ends she hits a really high note–almost a screech.  In the video a hawk lands on her outstretched hand.

Nice touch.  Did they do that live during Eurovision?

UPDATE: No hawk live, and they came in fifth (with a really cool set).

[READ: May 10, 2021]  “Card Wired”

Back in the mid to late 1990s, David Sedaris wrote a few Shouts & Murmurs for the New Yorker.  It’s interesting to see a writer whom you know for a certain style of writing crafting jokes in a very different manner.  Shouts & Murmurs are rarely actually funny, and that’s true of most of these.

Obviously the topical nature of most of these means there’s a component of “wait, what was going on?”, but the set up usually explains everything pretty well.  Now we are more likely to say, “Aw, remember when that’s all we cared about?”

This piece is based on an article in The Independent that says greeting card companies are getting in on the “mass-therapy act” so if you buy enough of these cards you could hold an entire conversation with your loved one without opening your mouth. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 25, 2018] Korpiklaani

I’m not even sure now what inspired me to go see Korpiklaani.  I know I’d never heard of them before this month.  But I somehow saw their name and t heir genre and heard that their shows were just inspired lunacy.  The fact that they were from Finland made it even more interesting and exotic.  I watched a video or two and decided I’d like to see them.  And then, lo and behold they were playing in Philly in like two weeks.

So I rearranged my schedule and got a ticket.

The crowd at TLA was relatively small, but it was incredibly intense.  Nearly everyone there knew the band really well.  Some were in kilts, there were lots of beards.  And that small crowd even got a raging mosh pit going.

Some people feel that they are not really heavy metal, and I can see that.  Even singer Jonne Järvelä, said “Korpiklaani’s music would be seen as “old people’s music with heavy metal guitars” in Finland.

I really had no idea what to expect, so I was delighted when the band came out as a kind of Nordic Folk Village People.   (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 25, 2018] Arkona

This was an early Sunday show.  Doors at 6, bands on at 7.  It was billed as three bands, headliners Korpiklaani, with support from Arkona and a Philly band called Frost Giant, all of whom played Folk Metal–a genre I had only recently even heard of.

Parking was a drag (I was foolish in my arrival time) and so I got into the theater a little after 7.  There was some buzz in the room, but I never would have guessed that was because Frost Giant had already come and gone–leaving no trace.  After the show someone told me that they went on at 6:35 and were good.  Sorry Frost Giant, that’s poor information from the venue, but I’ve just listened to some of your stuff on bandcamp, and you guys rock.  I hope to see you again around Philly.

I didn’t know Arkona (Аркона) at all.  I looked them up before the show and learned that they were Russian, which I found really exciting and intriguing.  Korpiklaani is Finnish, so it would be a night of no one singing English at all. (more…)

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