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Ensiferum @ Gramercy Theatre (12/5/2009)

Logo - Ensiferum

Artist: Ensiferum
Venue: Gramercy Theatre (New York, NY)
Opener: Ex Deo, Blackguard, Martyrd
Date: 12/5/2009
Label: Candlelight Records

See if you can stick with me on this. Ensiferum announced the “Heathen Crusade” a few months ago and this would be the bands first US headlining go round since they commanded the stage during the first Paganfest in 2008. The show was going to find them joined by Hypocrisy, ExDeo and Blackguard and it was sure to be something to remember. However, the wonderful and often problematic Visa situation found Hypocrisy pulling off the tour and this disappointed many because the band was going to have Children Of Bodom’s Alexi Laiho as a part of their lineup for the tour. The show was also originally set for The Fillmore NY but as it drew closer to happening the Metal faithful found it moved to the Gramercy Theatre a few blocks away. If you have visited both venues you will know full well that Gramercy is a bit smaller in terms of bodies that it can fit inside. Are you still with me? Good because this gets a little more interesting. Given the fact that a show was already happening at Gramercy that night with Winds Of Plague, the Ensiferum show would begin immediately after the Winds show ended. This would make a very late night for the Viking Metal fans of NYC who were coming to the show. My plan was to try and photograph some of Winds since I would be in the same space but my timing was off and instead I went to a showing of the Black Metal documentary “Until The Light Takes Us”. With Hypocrisy off the bill, ExDeo and Blackguard were moved up a notch on the event roster and to guarantee a little extra attention local boys Martyrd would start off the now very late show. Here is how the night went down.
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Ensiferum @ B.B. King Blues Club (5/22/2008)

Logo - Ensiferum

Artist: Ensiferum
Venue: B.B. King Blues Club (New York, NY)
Opener: Tyr, Eluveitie, Turisas
Date: 5/22/2008
Label: Century Media Records

Raise your swords in preparation for glorious battle New York City for the Pagan Fest has arrived and brought with them the might of Ensiferum and Turisas along with their combat ready heralds Tyr and Eluveitie. I have to admit that the Viking and Folk Metal genre were pretty new in my list of favorite styles to follow and that I have only been enjoying these kinds of bands for a handful of years but in this short time I have tried to catch up. The styles appeal to me based on their ability to deliver a consistently rousing and glorious battle sound that is as entertaining on the albums as it comes across in the live sense. This would be the first Paganfest to occur in the States to my knowledge and while something much more common outside of this region it was a very special event on this side of the ocean based on the debut. Despite the show being scheduled at the same time as Dream Theater’s “Progressive Nation” tour with Opeth, the event at B.B. King Blues Club and Grill would be sold out and the hordes of invading Metal fans were lined up early down 42nd street to ensure that they would not miss out on any of the exciting bands performing tonight. I would miss the DT/Opeth show based on its selling out as well but in truth I was much more excited about having the chance to enjoy four bands that have never performed here before. Each of the four bands tonight come to us via different record labels and as result we would get Napalm Records, Nuclear Blast Records, Century Media Records and Candlelight Music all displaying their finest artisans in the genre. If you were lucky enough to be a part of this then you already know how much fun it was and if you missed it for some unknown reason well here is how the event transpired.
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“Victory Songs” by Ensiferum

Artist: Ensiferum
Title: “Victory Songs”
Label: Candlelight Records
Release Date: 4/24/2007
Genre: Viking Metal
Rating: 4/5

I’m beginning to think that there’s nothing better than a little Viking Metal when you are looking for music to get the blood pumping and the energy level raised. This belief was affirmed when I began to play the album “Victory Songs”, the US debut by Finland’s own Ensiferum. As the album begins you immediately hear that Ensiferum approaches the Viking Metal genre with a slightly different twist and this is perhaps based on the band being Finnish as opposed to being Norwegians. They blend many elements of Finnish Folk Metal into the Viking side and as result have some similarity to bands like Korpiklaani and Finntroll. Of course they don’t sound exactly like them since Korpiklaani is quite festive and vibrant and brings dancing to mine while Finntroll makes you want to pillage a town and maybe even drink quite a bit. With “Victory Songs”, Ensiferum are presenting you with a call to arms and as the album opens with “Ad Victoriam” , I felt as though I was riding a proud stallion up a mountain with armies behind me until we overlooked a region that was to be ours for the taking. The orchestrations end and the band attack commences with as “Blood Is The Price Of Glory” which is a thunderous number where you can really envision a terrible battle taking place as it plays through. It is right then that you realize this is going to be an exciting album. There is straight ahead Metal found on “Deathbringer From The Sky” with its crushing guitar riffs and bombastic double bass drumming and with the song “Ahti” the guys sound quite a lot like Children Of Bodom based on the structure used in the tune and in the way that singer Petri Lindroos is handling the vocal lines. The band is also comprised of founder Markus Toivonen (guitar), Sami Hinkka (bass), Meiju Enho (keyboards) and Janne Parviainen (drums). The keyboards on the album however were the work of Finntroll’s own “Trollhorn” Henri Sorvali who uses his vast talents to bring different worlds of sound to the release. The guys also make strong use of the traditional Finnish Folk instruments such as the kantele, bagpipe, nyckelharpa and bodhrans which really help to make this album sound all the more interesting.
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