Ensiferum @ O2 Islington Academy, London

18th September 2012
Review by Victoria Fenbane
Photography by Diane RX
www.facebook.com/pages/Diane-Rx-Photography

Finnish Viking metallers Ensiferum visited in London during their 28 date ‘Bearers of the Sword’ Tour, to promote latest album ‘Unsung Heroes’. Support came from fellow Finns and label mates Profane Omen and Amoral…

First up was Profane Omen. I find it difficult to say much about them….to my ears they came across as unremarkable standard metal fare…supposedly they are ‘groove metal’ but I just didn’t feel their groove.

Next up are Amoral – for a band who have been around for over a decade they look younger, probably due to vocalist Ari’s boyish looks. They maintain my attention better than Profane Omen, due to being more melodic and possessing a commercial Iron Maiden-esq sound which makes them easier on the ear.

Amoral
Amoral

The crowd took well to them, but in my opinion both support bands were a poor choice considering the headliner, for me anyway. I was there for the folk metal sounds of the headliner, but am not into the other genres of metal on offer tonight, making the wait for Ensiferum a long one.

Ensiferum.1
During this wait I was probably more prone to irritations, so I found the fact that the support bands started up over the background music, without it being faded down sloppy and arrogant. Maybe it’s the norm for metal gigs, but a little communication been the band and whoever is in charge of the CD player wouldn’t go amiss. Anyway onto the main act…

After the standard metal-ness of the supports, Ensiferum take to the stage in a dramatic mannor.
Their ‘Unsung Heroes’ Viking backdrop and keyboard stand adorned with twinned swords and a shield, set the scene for a storming set of 16 songs and helped whip up a responsive crowd. Sod the supports; it’s Ensiferum we have come to see.

Ensiferum
Ensiferum

‘In My Sword I Trust’, the stand out song from the current ‘Unsung Heroes’ album and You Tube hit makes an early appearance, second in the set, but they have no way peaked as they have plenty of classic to belt out too..
As expected for Islington Academy the sound is excellent, it may not be the most attractive venue and the beer is overpriced but the sound is always good and from the drunkenness of the many youngster in the crowd the beer prices are the last thing on their minds.

I was surprised how little Petri contributes to the vocals – a lot is done by Markus and Sami either side of him, however the triple vocals add melody to the songs and the crowd can’t help but sing along all the way though. Another surprise was that the blast beats do not come across physically, as they usually do for me.
I am unsure whether this is down to the venue or a characteristic of Ensiferum’s performances.

Profane Omen
Profane Omen

‘Hero in a Dream’, ‘Unsung Heroes’ and ‘Iron’ go down particularly well.
Following the usual disappearing/reappearing encore routine, we are treated to three more songs starting with ‘Twilight Tavern’. The band claim to be taking us all to their backstage bar, which of course doesn’t happen!
The lengthy gig closes with band thanking the crowd for coming out on a Tuesday night and a request for a pit for the final song – not a tall order when that song is old faithful ‘Battle Song’, which showcases all their strengths. After having to endure the supports, Ensiferum’s performance is outstanding, however it is too formulaic and rehearsed at times, but as they are playing to a majority younger crowd maybe they are being complacent, knowing they can get away with it!

Setlist:
Symbols
In My Sword I Trust
Guardians of Fate
From Afar
Burning Leaves
Pohjola
Heathen Throne
Kalevala
Blood is the Price of Glory
One More Magic Potion
Hero in a Dream
Unsung Heroes
Iron

Encore:
Twilight Tavern
Lai Lai Hei
Battle Song

 

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