Pumpehuset, Copenhagen - 2012

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Yggdrasil stood for the Swedish contribution to the Grand Folk-Metal Night held at Pumpehuset this cold January night. Before them we had had the pleasure of two Danish bands, Heidra and Huldre, and one Norwegian band, Faanefjell; after Yggdrasil we would return to Danish soil with Vanir as the last act of the night.

Yggdrasil can easily be called the most experience band of the lot this evening; with a more than ten year long history and three full-length albums behind them they were miles ahead of the competition in this area. Nevertheless, Yggdrasil was also one of the two bands playing this night of which I had no previous knowledge, hence a short recap for those of you who, just as I, are new to the band.
It seems for the longest of times Yggdrasil consisted of two guys, vocalist/guitarist Magnus Wohlfart and bassist Gustaf Hagel, and only in recent years they have been joined by drummer Blecher and second guitarist Benny Olsson. Now, reading this surprised me quite a bit as in the live-format I saw them, they were five as Wohlfart had handed over his guitar-duty to someone else, someone I for the life of me have not been able to figure out who it is...
Anyway, the lack of the guitar he is usually used to playing may explain the somewhat stiff and sometimes oddly choreographed movement of Wohlfart.

What hit me first when seeing the Swedes enter the stage and begin their show was a feeling of strong stylistic confusion – here we had a vocalist in nice pants, shirt and a vest (the necessary folk-metal ”dirt-spots” added of course), guitarist Mr. X with a punkers hairdo and a pseudo The Crow make-up, while the rest of the band wore more normal, discreet clothing and appearances. With dirt. Very important that dirt, when it comes to defining yourself as folk-metal obviously.
Anyway, this isn’t a fashion site, God only knows I’ve never been the most fashionable guy on the block, so let’s move on to the important stuff, shall we? Like music?
Yggdrasil’s focus was definitely on the black metal side of the fence when it comes to the different directions there is to take within the narrow genre of folk-metal, thus picking up the legacy of such well-known acts as early Ulver and early Vintersorg, just not quite as interesting. Mostly what came out of the speakers this night was a hardly digestible lump of hammering noise where the clean segments of vocals were nearly inaudible, though in all fairness it should be added that the band sounds a whole lot better on album than what they did on stage this night.

I didn’t know that at the time though, and neither did most of the audience here tonight which was evident in the now much less crowded floor in front of the stage. What had started out as a lively and sweaty evening was now taking a drastic turn for the worse sadly.
Yggdrasil were intent to see this thing through though, and with the aid of an arsenal of songs and a Scanian speaking frontman who tried to lift the mood with some short comments between songs, little by little they were pulling people away from the bar and back to the floor. Yggdrasil also had the most professional stage setup so far, with small banners hanging on both sides of the stage, but little good did it do them when they still were coming across as the least interesting band this night...

As I mentioned earlier, if you truly want to judge the music of Yggdrasil, you’d be much better of listening to their albums than think about what they delivered on stage at the Grand Folk-Metal Night as the sound guy obviously was no friend of theirs, but what was the biggest let-down for me was the awkward and uninteresting performance. Guys, when you play live, delivering the feeling makes up fifty percent (at the very least) of the experience, and this part needs some very loving attention.
That being said, I should add that Metalmoments more black metal loving photographer Lunah Lauridsen expressed a like for the band after the show, so maybe it was just too raw for my taste...


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