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  • Writer's pictureThe Metal Mayan

Korpiklaani, Visions of Atlantis, Illumishade @ Gramercy Theater

With the walls of the Gramercy Theater still reverberating from the folk metal melodies of the recent Týr show, a little more than a week had passed before the venue prepared for yet another night of epic tales and immense performances. As with the aforementioned Faroese folk metal heavyweights, Finland's Korpiklaani were also long overdue for a return trip to New York City - the place where their last U.S. tour concluded in 2014.

Rolling into town four days after the release of their twelfth album, Rankarumpu, the Finnish legends arrived with rising stars Visions of Atlantis and Illumishade in tow for a night of song and dance. "I don't know when I'll have a chance to grab a shirt from the merch tables," said one fan, "I don't want to miss a single set!"

Making their greatly anticipated North American debut, Illumishade took the stage to some of the loudest cheers an opening band could ever hope for. Vocalist Fabienne Erni would later express her joy and surprise that so many in the crowd had come to see their performance.

Opening with headcrusher "Elegy", the band's thundering grooves were complimented by composer and keyboardist extraordinaire Mirjam Skal. Those already familiar with the band's second album Another Side of You (check out our review of it here), released back in February, already knew to expect a mind blowing experience that the Illumishade delivered with gusto.

Formed by Erni and guitarist Jonas Wolf, who were in fact a part of last Korpiklaani tour as full time members of Eluveitie, Illumishade's brand of polyrhythmic symphonic power metal bedazzled all in attendance and quickly incited the first mosh pits of the evening.

Bringing to life a total of six songs off their latest release and two cuts from their 2020 debut, this could very well be the first and last chance for audiences to see the Swiss quintet early in evening. Proclaimed as "a rising star setting the standard of excellence for 2024" by this publication, many in the crowd commented after the set on the headliner grade energy that came from the first act of the night.

While Illumishade is swiftly picking up the pace on their journey to bigger shows and stages, Visions of Atlantis knows this path all to well. First making landfall in the U.S. as the first act opening for Dragonforce in 2022, their next trips to New York saw the Austrian marauders headline at the Brooklyn Meadows in February, 2023, and as direct support to Delain in September.

One year later and the demand Visions of Atlantis is at an all time high with fans singing every lyric to "Master the Hurricane", "Clocks" and "Mercy". If the music alone wasn't captivating, the chemistry between vocalists Clémentine Delauney and Michele Guaitoli is cinematic mastery come to life as the duet traded harmonies, dances, and witty banter throughout the set.

With the much anticipated sequel to last year's Pirates, fans were treated to several new offerings from Pirates II - Armada, due out this July. Having released "Armada" as the new album's lead single, those in attendance hear its live debut along with premier performances of "Tonight I'm Alive" and "Monsters".

Not forgetting longtime fans, "Heroes of the Dawn" served as the lone legacy song, taken from 2019's Wanderers.

Given the endless churning sea of circle pits throughout their set, the tide is rising for Visions of Atlantis to return to New York on their next headlining tour, perhaps in celebration of their upcoming opus.

Setting the stage in a manner that conveys vibes of deep forests and lakes, the time had come at last for the titans of the north to take the Gramercy by storm. With the opening chants to "Kotomaa" ringing out, the song might have been brand new, but the crowd knew exactly what to do, erupting into a massive circle pit that would seldom subside for the rest of the set.

Combining Finnish lore, folk instruments such as violins and accordions, and high speed riffs, Korpiklaani quickly turned a Tuesday night into a Friday night boozin' brawl. Charging through an additional six new songs from the hot off the presses Rankarumpu, this was actually the second album released since the band's last visit to New York.

Making up for lost time, "Leväluhta", "Pidot" and "Sanaton maa" were brought to the stage for the first time as belated celebrations of Jylhä, released in 2021.

Answering the question of one venue worker of 'what exactly is folk metal?', the upbeat tempo of the traditional Finnish song "Ievan Polkka" saw the eye of the circle pit become an island where fans locked arms in a jig, or swung each other around with gale-force might.

Another example was "Happy Little Boozer" off 2006's Tales Along This Road, which was recently covered by Trollfest on their 20 Years in the Wrong Lane compilation. Such was the homage that, for the video of the cover, Trollfest went so far as to dress up like the members of Korpiklaani.

For those looking for something a bit more modern, and perhaps taking a page from Trollfest's playbook of peculiar cover, Korpiklaani brought the boogie with their cover of the Eurodisco hit "Gotta Go Home". Originally released in 1979 by Boney M. and then heavily sampled by Duck Sauce for their 2010 smash hit "Barbara Streisand", the metal version was more than enough to incite a ruckus in the crowd.

With over twenty songs covering nine of their dozen releases, fans from day one to yesterday had plenty to enjoy throughout the night. And as curtains fell on the stage, one could not help but wonder how anyone was to go to work the next day after so many sets of energy and dance.

Ticket and photo pass courtesy of Freeman Promotions


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