As kiuas take the stage there’s tragically still half the crowd outside waiting in an icy queue that seemed to form out of nowhere and the presence of which was never fully explained by an unrepentant venue. The sound is muddy at first but soon clears and the result is their epic anthems come through with all the fire and passion you’ve come to expect from the excellent band, only just a touch rawer. ‘Black winged goddess’ transpires to be heavy as hell and gets the swelling crowd going with some brutal deathly growls. The clean vocals, due to visa related chaos, are ably handled by guitarist Mikko Salovaara, bassist Teemu Tuominen and keyboardist Jari Pailamo, and despite their diminished line-up kiuas sound awesome. The next track, complete with random yodelling, proves very popular with the audience who stand fists aloft and blood pumping whilst the guitarist quips “you’re a lovely people I can see it from your sincere eyes” before launching into a fiery ‘of love lust and human nature’. With time for just one more song before the mighty ‘warrior soul’ closes the short, perfectly formed set, Kiuas leave the audience dazed, stunned and wanting more. Let’s hope they return soon.
Next up are chthonic who are no less eagerly awaited. The Taiwanese metal band have been going from strength to strength from album ‘seediq bale’ through the quite astonishingly powerful ‘mirror of retribution’ to current long player ‘Takasago army’ and their live show is similarly inspirational. A huge atmospheric intro brings the band to the stage before all hell is let loose.The music is as uncompromising as ever but there’s a more anthemic feel with singer Freddy Lam sounding even more vicious than usual. It’s a great, metallic start to the band’s show and as ‘rise of the shadows’, ‘southern cross’ and ‘oceanquake’ are ground out with force, precision and passion there is not a person in the venue not swept away by the Oriental detours, flailing guitars and extreme vocals.
But for all that Kiuas and Chthonic blew my mind, the crowd are here for one band, and one band alone. The chants for Turisas begin long before the band make the stage and whilst the other bands tonight were amazing, for almost half the crowd rows there were no other bands. With face paint and plastic swords filling the first two rows, the divide between crowd and band is well and truly blurred and when the audience start singing… well the effect is truly unnerving.
Opening with ‘the march of the Varangian guard’ turisas take possession of the stage and don’t let go until the end, leaving a sweaty, exhausted and satisfied crowd in their wake. The sound, however, has taken a dive since Chthonic, which does mute the impact somewhat. ‘One more’ invokes a mass sing a long and the band’s dominance is complete. ‘The great escape’ gets fists pumping while promising to return to Leicester was always going to get a huge cheer and so the band lay waste to all before them building up to a sweaty, rousing climax of ‘Rasputin’ and ‘battle metal’. Not a soul leaves the venue feeling short changed and it was great to see so many fans come out of the woodwork for a wonderful triple-header where every band bought something fresh and exciting to the table. A thrilling night that few will forget in a hurry, now let’s just hope Turisas keep their promise and come back soon.