A busy agenda almost prevented me from going to the concert; luckily two days before the show I recalled that significant date and I could deal with all my stuff and attend the gig, which was to take place at the Banda Sonora Club. That hole was unknown for me so I had to look at a map to locate it. Well, that Club was no bad at all, small but comfy. Taking into account the scarce target audience, the tiny venue had a more than decent amount of metalheads there, gathered to watch three varied bands.
Narsilion were the openers. They´re a guy and a girl performing medieval ambient, with a solemn and bombastic sound quite in the vein of Arcana or Ataraxia. I´ve seen them a couple of times and basically they perform live with a violin, drum, acoustic guitar, keys, flute and of course their vocals. They alternate the instruments and thus they solve the problem of being only two, helped by some recorded backgrounds. The band shows a lot of dedication and sing lyrics evocating the past and culture of their homeland. They´re now in a German label and if you´re a fan of the aforementioned bands you could give them a try.
Lux Divina´s come back after some years of silence was wrapped in a blacky focus and I felt the pagan element of their music had dimmed, anyway technically speaking they´re not black metal aficionados and the experience of listening them live was satisfactory. Since the last time I saw them live, as I say, they´ve made a shift going away from pagan elements like clean voices and In The Woods-esque schemes, to conform a solid black metal approach with a rather straight style. To close their appearance, they paid homage to Mayhem performing a powerful, competent version of “Pagan Fears”.
The Skyforger show I had the chance to watch that night was one of the shortest set-lists ever heard. Not only because of the tremendously scarce length -55 minutes!- but also for the sensations left in me. To sum it all up: an upheaval of pagan forces! The band offered a ramming performance where the songs of the last album were a bit left aside; instead they rather concentrated on playing old classics, highly celebrated by the attendants. I had no idea about the setlist of these blokes; I expected personal favourites as “Nakts Debesu Karakungs” or “Dzives Vismelnaka Stunda” but the burnt offerings were rather midtempo choices, as Peter told me after the concert (keep on reading for more details). The songs fell one by one and time fled fast to madness! Skyforger live are a quite professional band and don´t make prisoners; a solid stance and a strong compromise with the music they play makes them a really interesting act to see live. One of the things the people there asked ourselves was how would the band solve the folk instruments issue, whether they have brought a proper musician or not. Skyforger decided to play the folk parts on guitar since no bagpipes were used on stage. The result didn´t suffer significantly since the compositions are strong enough by themselves to make it. The sound was quite good without significant inconveniences, and the group attitude was quite hot, Peter and especially Edgars "Zirgs", the bass player -hell, what an enormous guy- were constantly cheering up the audience. The small stage was literally inside the audience, so the ambience was quite close between the band and the audience. Yes, I must state it: a band to watch!
Skyforger had to end their concert due to the venue´s owner pressure, who wanted to empty the place for the pub time to come (according to what I was told) and that was the reason of such a short show. Yes, I know, it´s something absolutely shameful, another thing that makes the metal scene in Spain sometimes eigth-world. When Skyforger grabbed their weapons and went backstage, I talked with band´s manager Andy and he took me there so I could meet the band and chat with singer Peter. I had a great time talking with him on several issues and taking a beer the band kindly offered me. Peter was tortured by my questions and I damned myself for not having carried a recorder nor a camera... yes, it´s true: Tartarean Desire should not employ scum like me in their roster! Peter told me he was very concerned about what lyrical focus would be chosen in the new album, since he felt it was quite hard to touch an original subject and he was quite devoted on making something fresh and unique in his verses. Peter also said they were happy with the current band status of small scene and band, close audience and far away from top-selling gestures. He said he didn´t want Skyforger to do commercial reverences like other bands do. We spoke about Soviet influence on every day life in Latvia, the censorship of pagan symbols associated to metal music, their visit to Spain, their tour... He showed as a quite kind, polite and educated person, very interested in history and the Latvian past and folklore. Not to mention his patience to put up with a jerk like me after a show for twenty minutes... many questions were left in the fridge or forgotten, but a future interview could unveil them for you all.
Enough! Or too much?
Note: pictures are courtesy of Maria Paula Di Fini.