Wednesday is the time for a mid-week break from life, and what better way to do that then at Močvara with Ensiferum, Ex Deo and Wind Rose. These bands delivered a great combination of cheerful melodies sung by smiling Italians to Ancient Romans and their blast beats followed by the Viking folk metal giants. If you were crazy enough to miss this spectacular line up, have no fear, we’ll tell you exactly what a great time it was!
The first supporting act, Wind Rose, came up at the stage at exactly 20:30. Their music is a mix of power and folk with medieval fantasy themed lyrics (and outfits), which was excatly the thing to start the evening off. The audience seemed to be at least familiar with them, and even if they weren’t, they were responsive and eager to jump around. That was helped in general by the band, as they were a smiling bunch who seemed to be having as good of a time as the audience. While there were some faults to be found with their performance music-wise, none were to be found with their ability to put on a great show. The band communicated with the audience well, which was most evident with songs like “Rebel and Free” or “Drunken Dwarves”, and especially “To Erebor”. Wind Rose was a thus perfect concert opener, and I believe no one would mind a repeat visit to Zagreb from them.
In place of the usual mingling and general waiting around for the next band to come on stage, Ensiferum offered their fans a chance for a meet and greet at the merchandise stands. This proved to be a great model that many bands could look up to because the waiting time for the next band went by faster than you could blink as excitement rose high over the chance to get a picture or an autograph. No one seemed to mind waiting in line for it (except, maybe, the band, who did seem like they were just putting up with their fans for a few moments there) and the security was well organized, so everything went by smoothly and left the fans very happy.
At 21:40 – and this reporter cannot get over the shock of everything being on time, sorry – the long awaited Ex Deo started their show. Ex Deo is a side project of Kataklysm’s Maurizio Iacono and as can be expected from a side project, they are not a band that can put out a lot of albums or tour often. When they do, their music can be categorized as symphonic death metal with the lyrics revolving around Ancient Roman history and mythology. Although there was a considerable number of people in front of the stage, the audience grew considerably as the band opened with “The Rise of Hannibal” and then proceeded with “I, Caligvala” and “Pollice Verso (Damnatio Ad Bestia)”. The intermezzo was done with a drum solo and melted into “Cato Major: Carthago delenda est!”. The rest of the setlist included “Ad Victoriam” and “The Final War” and the concert closed with “The Roman” and “Romulus”. The band had a pretty choreographed show for the first few songs, which seemed slightly cold to me and more distant than when they started properly talking to the audience. Although the concert was great before that, afterwards it seemed to really take off. We got to see the fans try and make a wall of death, which I haven’t seen often at concerts in Zagreb so that might be why the guys struggled to get it going before Murizio organized them. The whole Ex Deo performance set the bar really high for the headliners of the night as the audience seemed to truly enjoy the show a lot.
It isn’t a secret that Ensiferum have a lot of fans in Croatia, and a very special relationship with them that guarantees excitement bordering on euphoria whenever they come on stage. It was no different this night as the band led with a new song, “For Those About to Fight for Metal” and proceeded to “Two Paths”, “Heathen Horde” and “King of Storms”. First of the already established hits was “The Wanderer” which saw even more singing along and moshing. “Twilight Tavern” is by now a must play for the band, and “Treacherous Gods” was a great follow up. “Lai Lai Hei”, as one of their most popular songs, got the fans going crazy. A humorous interlude gave the band the opportunity to show that they don’t take themselves too seriously as they played the most recognizable snippets of “Smoke on the Water” and “Woodoo Child” (and call me crazy, but was that “Nemo” there at the beginning too?). Ensiferum continued on heavy with another crowd pleaser, “In my Sword I Trust”, and then another classic, “Tumman Virran Taa” and “The Longest Journey”. “Way of the Warrior” and “Into Battle” apparently rounded up the concert before the band came back to play “Iron” and a short, fun cover of “Sweet Child O’ Mine”. Depending on which band member and at what time you were look at them, you could kind of get the impression that the band wasn’t giving it their everything. It is understandable, as tours do go on for a long time, but I would have liked to see a bit more effort at times. However, if I wasn’t really trying hard to pay attention, my hair would have been in my eyes way too much for me to notice this, and the rest of the fans didn’t seem to either. I think it’s safe to say that everyone got exactly what they wanted, with a good balance of new and older hits and a solid performance from the band that got the fans singing, jumping and generally enjoying themselves a lot this night.
All in all, the concert was a pleasant surprise as it ended up being one of the most enjoyable concerts of the year so far. The bands were all amazing and a great mixture of different genres and experience levels that saw everyone having a really good time, and left us wanting more. We can only hope to get all of these bands back to Zagreb soon!
Photo: Mario Bošnir