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The audience at the Bossanova Ballroom was beyond ecstatic upon the arrival of two of the greatest ambassadors of folk metal to arrive in Portland. The Wanderers Towards Rebirth Tour featured Eluveitie, the elegantly dressed, nine-member Swiss Folk ensemble who brought more instruments than I knew names of to the celebration. Co-headlining the tour was Korpiklaani. The cheerful Finnish Folk band turned Metal. Wherever this band performs, a good time is bound to follow. Both bands were well-prepared to educate their North American fan base about the endless possibilities of injecting your native culture into the music you love.

In support of the tour, Gone in April brought an eclectic combination of Symphonic Melodic Death Metal to the stage. The band's dual vocalist approach was a well-received look into the diverse night of music to come. Multi-instrumentalist and siren, Julie Bélanger Roy weaved intricate and need I say, beautiful melodies into the aggressive vocal delivery performed by Aaron Rogers. Gone in April were a welcome surprise to the night ahead.

Before long, a quaint barnyard fence began to take shape around the drum riser. For those unfamiliar with the Finnish Folk band, Korpiklaani has a reputation for having a good time. Drinks are usually involved. And dancing... lots of dancing. There were smiles and laughter, kilts and accordions, and not a motionless body in the venue. A foot from where I was standing, violinist, Tuomas Rounakari, dressed entirely in white was lost in the music and so were we. The dreads on vocalist, Jonne Järvelä took on a life of their own and bounced from the jolly frontman's head almost as to demand that you join in or face the consequences. With a "Hey, Hey, Hey!" the Finn's jumped into "Viinamäen Mies," "A Man with a Plan" in English and we jumped in unison, shoulder to shoulder, arm in arm, to the keys of an accordion and a seemingly tame audience transformed into a jubilant dance party. Järvelä held a plastic cup filled to the brim with an unknown dark liquid, which seemed to have appeared out of thin air, over the audience. He took in a mouthful and proudly sprayed it out over the thrilled audience. The band performed with intricate melodies with instruments of the past. Their lyrics echoed Finnish folklore and the love of a drink in hand. Korpiklaani asked the audience if they would like to hear the next song in English or in Finnish, their native tongue. With a unanimous shout, we screamed the latter.

The nine-piece, Swiss folk metal phenomenon, Eluveitie, formed in Winterthur, Zürich, describes themselves as "the new wave of folk metal." With such an assorted set of characters making up the band it is impossible not to find something to like. After witnessing band founder and frontman, Chrigel Glanzmann, toss his arms back in front of the mic and take command of the audience with the sheer power of his voice during the song, "King," a track off of their album Origins, he easily usurped the title as my new favorite death metal vocalist. There was an equally powerful and stunning performer in Fabienne Ernie who shared lead vocal duties with Glanzmann. Fabienne Ernie's entrancing vocals complimented her haunting melodies played on her Celtic harp while the equally confident and talented women of Eluveitie proudly headbanged with their own instruments at their side. One after another, fans took to the sky. A folk metal audience is a compassionate one. I watched as they lifted each other up and held them without fail and sent them riding a wave of arms throughout the venue. I've never seen anyone make a full lap around an entire venue twice over before and land without a scratch.

Gods and Goddesses stood on that stage violently whipped their hair from left to right in unison. Traditional European instruments collided with modern metal; and bagpipes, harps and roaring guitars played as one. After the show, the members of Eluveitie, Korpiklaani and Gone in April shared laughs and celebrated the night with their dedicated fans outside the venue. If there ever was a more dedicated and welcoming fan base as the one I witnessed this night, I have yet to see one. The Wanderers Towards Rebirth Tour is not for the narrow-minded. Be prepared to open new doors and your mind to ancient cultures through the power of Folk Metal.

Raul Soria Jr.

Photojournalist - Portland

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