After another monumental year of touring for Finnish Folk Metal/Battle Metal legends Ensiferum, capping off the end of the 'One Man Army' cycle with a slot on The MTV Headbanger's Ball tour meant a lot to the band and also to us because it not only gave us a dream billing with two of our favourite bands but a chance to see Ensiferum in England for the second time this year.
Before Ensiferum hit the stage, we had our now usual meet up with Sami Hinkka and over a beer in the tour bus, the acclaimed bassman revealed some details of the forthcoming seventh Ensiferum album and their plans for 2017 and beyond. Here's the conversation in full.
Once our conversation was over, it was time for Sami and Petri, who was also being interviewed in the tour bus, to prepare for their performance and for us to go and check out Unearth and Kataklysm but we found ourselves locked in the bus and unable to contact anyone for help.
"There's plenty of beer in the fridge," said Petri and that removed all of the urgency regarding a rescue mission but Ensiferum still had a hugely important gig to play and so we took responsibility in ensuring that if they were to get to stage on time they were in a fit enough state to play by making sure we had the majority of the beer.
Eventually we were released from our own twilight tavern and all was well and the band took to the stage on time with the 'From Afar' introduction hailing them as the heathen hordes made enough noise to make the sky crumble.
The introduction was a huge surprise as everyone was expecting the 'One Man Army' intro to burst forth but Ensiferum completely changed their setlist for this one and opened with the title track of their fourth album.
With just an hour onstage, the same amount of time as headliners Iced Earth, there was no room for stopping and Ensiferum smashed out one gem after another while barely taking a breath between numbers, leaving the highly enthusiastic audience clamouring for more.
Just three songs from 'One Man Army' were aired, two from 'From Afar' and one each from 'Victory Songs', 'Unsung Heroes' and 'Iron' meaning all albums were covered other than the self-titled debut and this setlist worked absolutely perfectly.
It's a safe bet to say that the Electric venue had never seen a circle pit like the one on display tonight and Petri took great delight in encouraging the moshers to do their worst as the volume from a truly appreciative audience rose and rose.
It was great to see Ensiferum at a venue other than the O2 Academy for once and the audience reaction proved that they are ready to take a step up in UK venue now and the quality of this performance alone deserves a bigger stage. Petri told us that they had actually played here before in 2007, but that was the year before MetalTalk was born.
Ensiferum was born in 1995 meaning they are twenty-one years old now and they have most certainly come of age after a triumphant career-so-far high point in 'One Man Army'. They are a totally accomplished and extremely vibrant live act with a penchant for delivering the Metal goods in their own unique style and that's why they are the world's most accomplished Folk Metal band.
And it's a fact that they won over some new fans tonight who were totally unfamiliar with the genre. One remarked that they had "made his day" and another was overheard saying "Iced Earth won't be able to follow that".
You can click here to find out whether they did or not and in the meantime, catch Ensiferum's last few gigs of the 'One Man Army' tour cycle and the last remaining dates of the Headbanger's Ball tour this month, as below.
We have the follow up to 'One Man Army' to look forward to next year and hopefully a UK festival appearance too. We'll meet again in Valhalla, for certain...
Warrior Without A War
In My Sword I Trust
Two Of Spades
Lai Lai Hei
Remaining tour dates:
10th December: DE Gießen Hessenhallen
11th December: BE Torhout De Mast
13th December: CH Pratteln Z-7
14th December: CH Pratteln Z-7
15th December: DE Stuttgart LKA
16th December: AT Wien Arena
17th December: DE München Backstage
18th December: CZ Zlin Euronics