Finland’s Ensiferum were preceded by the Metsatöll, who I will have to do a whole separate review of, otherwise this will just become a short novel. Suffice to say, we certainly got our money’s worth at this event, and more some. This was my first folk metal gig and, while I was super excited, I had no idea what to expect! When you listen to the albums, they border on the slightly cheesy, all that yodeling about knights, blood, and honour. Still though, it’s super refreshing, too. It’s unashamedly brash and over the top, and sometimes you need a band that plays great music but doesn’t take itself too seriously.
This was immediately obvious in the first few minutes of the performance, as the band joked and ran around, reacting comically to each other and the audience, it was almost slapstick! But jokes aside, it didn’t diminish the quality of the music one jot. For if the Gods listen to anything, this was surely it, the music of the Gods! The sheer meaty, HUGENESS of the songs just filled the tiny venue fit to bursting, and I felt like a viking myself! It was a joyous, otherworldly festival, a celebration of battle and beer. It was a pleasure to see the way the band all seemed to feed off each other, all so different, yet still bringing in the right ingredient to the delicious metal cocktail.
With six studio albums under their belt, Ensiferum have a wonderful back catalogue, and although they played a decent amount from their latest addition, One Man Army, they certainly didn’t neglect the older favourites. It’s hard to please everyone, of course, but this was a beautifully selected setlist, and I for one was especially thrilled to hear Burning Leaves, Ahti, and My Ancestors’ Blood played live!
Petri is such a powerful and formidable frontman, he reminds me of a dragon, his stare is cool, shrewd, steely, slightly aloof, and his eyes say hey, you can admire me all you want, but come any closer and I’ll eat you! I caught his eye at one point as he was sweeping the crowd with that very stare, he held my gaze for a few seconds, and it made my heart stop for a minute, I felt like a rabbit being sized up by a wolf. Honestly, it was a bit fucking scary! But it’s just what I want from a viking leader, and I know what Finns are like, so I didn’t take it personally. But still… ya don’t mess with Petri, it’s just not on!
Sami on the bass, though, was a ball of happy, hairy energy, and he actually smiled and made a funny face at me when he saw me happily singing along! He was a bit of a clown the whole way through! Netta Skog was filling in for keyboardist Emmi on this tour, I loved her crowd interaction so much, she was like a cheeky pixie, all smiles and funny expressions! Markus, Ensiferum’s only original member and founding member, was absolutely dazzling with his guitar solos. Actually, I quite fancied him, he managed to make headbanging with a shaved head slash ponytail and war paint look kinda hot! And although he didn’t run about as much as Sami, he still did a bit of showing off, holding his guitar right in the air, and at one point, playing it behind his back for quite some time!
Unsung Heroes and Twilight Tavern bring the whirlwind show to an all too soon close, but the magic carries on with a smashing three song encore, and the singalong to In My Sword I Trust was simply phenomenal live. By the end of the show, the crowd wanted to hear Lai Lai Hei (judging by the relentless chanting!) but then Petri came along and said “I know you want to hear Lai Lai Hei, but we left it at home, it’s taking a fucking vacation!“. I don’t blame them, the band must be absolutely sick to death of playing it! They ended with Iron instead, which made me super happy!
It was one of the most rampant, powerful, energetic gigs I have ever been to, the make a lot of other metal bands look like mere boy bands, and I most certainly will jump at every single chance I get to see them again in this lifetime, if only to experience the euphoria of being a viking again!
PS: I didn’t take any photos but you can check out some amazing moments captured on the night right here.
- March of War
- Axe Of Judgement
- Heathen Horde
- Burning Leaves
- From Afar
- Warrior Without A War
- Treacherous Gods
- My Ancestor’s Blood
- Two Of Spades
- Unsung Heroes
- Twilight Tavern
- Into Battle
- In My Sword I Trust