» Blog Archive Ensiferum Bring The Heathen Horde To NYC -
Evan Conway Hard Music, News, Reviews, Tours

It’s been a while since Ensiferum have graced North America with their presence. Three and a half years, to be exact. For any band that’s an eternity, but Ensiferum’s fans are patient and the waiting has finally paid off. The band have finally made their return in a time when most European bands find themselves forced to cancel tours and settle for their loss, and the fans came out in droves to see the band be welcomed back knowing that they have actually touched down in America. Their return to New York was nothing less than a triumphant return.

I’ll heed this warning before going forward: I’ve been listening to Ensiferum for a long time. Even though my taste for folk metal has waned in the past few years, my appreciation for this band has not. Simply put, I can put this band on at any time and enjoy it. This band is on a pedestal and have remain untouched for years now and I can’t see that changing.

Seeing the band, though… That’s an experience. Most of their albums follow the same formula: epic, mood-setting music to start followed by one of the singles for the album, which usually is somewhere between 8 – 10 songs longs after that. Normally I like to see a difference between the album and the live show; I wouldn’t have it any other way with Ensiferum at it was so unmistakably akin to their style in seeing the band take the stage in their signature viking garb and begin to play. “For Those Who Fight For Metal” kicked the night off to a raging chorus from the crowd serving as the backing vocals for the majority of the song. It was expected, but rewarding in the same right and of all Ensiferum songs across their discography, this was the only way to open this show.

My favorite part of seeing Ensiferum, as it was reflected on their recent albums, was that guitarist Petri Lindoos is still doing the majority of the vocals, yet bassist Sami Hinkka and founding member/guitarist Markus Toivonen are all trading off clean and harsh vocal parts through the set. This is really apparent on “In My Sword I Trust,” which saw the band take advantage of this. You can hear it on the recording, too, but there’s nothing like hearing it authentically recreated in front of you and feeling it shake your core. The unity between the band members was very apparent during their set, and I still dream of a time where more bands can show this togetherness more frequently.

That brings me to the aspect in which Ensiferum need most to sell on their show: their scale.  The “epic folk metal” label usually follows the band wherever they go and many a band are influenced by them at this point, so seeing them should tell one why that’s the case. And truly, every aspect of the show does that. The band could be running on autopilot for all I know at this point, but between the tightness in their sound (“Lai Lai Hei” sounds incredible still) and the dynamic nature of their set accompanied by a spectacular, ever-changing lighting arrangement all but sold Ensiferum’s scale.

If I haven’t convinced you yet, get this: Ensiferum are a band that needs to be experienced live at least once. This is an actual show and not four guys on stage playing their songs as quickly as possible so they can get back to the bus. Band members are constantly interacting with the crowd, not wasting their time playing their weaker songs, and filled up a set with some of their best work. It’s an exciting hour and fifteen minutes that you don’t see too often in North America, and we should be thankful that a quality folk metal band is making their way overseas to give their patiently waiting fans an experience.

Ensiferum are currently on tour with Specticflesh and Arisis in the US.

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