For Those About To Fight For Metal: Ensiferum @ Irving Plaza [NYC]

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Helsinki-based folk metal troupe Ensiferum

Finnish folk metal giants Ensiferum powered their way through New York on Sunday with support from extreme metal group Arsis and symphonic death metal outfit Septicflesh.

Arsis’ set opened with songs such as “Handbook for the Recently Deceased” and “Hellsworn”, from their 2018 album “Visitant”. Lead guitarist Brandon Ellis was ready to riff alongside singer James Malone at a moment’s notice, although the band seemed to have different levels of experience on stage. They added growling and clean vocal layers with “The Face of My Innocence” before making way for Septicflesh.

The Greek troupe looked every bit death metal, and they adorned the stage with two scrims printed with pregnant snakes, behind which they switched out gear between songs. Referring to the crowd as “my friends”, singer Spiros Antoniou summoned energy from audience, who started to wake up during “Enemy of Truth”, a heavy hitter from their 2017 album “Codex Omega”.

Septicflesh reached a crescendo during “Communion”, at which point crowd surfers began flying overhead. Vocal layering and orchestral instrumental voices accompanied tireless drummer Krimh Lechner, whose double bass rhythms never faltered through set’s final track, “Anubis”.

After a brief set change, Ensiferum entered the stage with “For Those About to Fight For Metal” and smiles too big to contain. The venue immediately took on a festival atmosphere, and the band- made up of lead vocalist/guitarist Petri Lindroos, guitarist/vocalist Markus Toivonen, bassist/vocalist Sami Hinkka, and drummer Janne Parviainen- bounced around the stage.

It was about four years since the group’s last New York performance, and they were visibly eager to bring new mythology-inspired album content from 2017’s “Two Paths” to local listeners.

Hinkka said, “The way I see it, almost all folklores around the world have lots of similar caricatures of human characters and fates. Maybe the point of ‘Two Paths’ is that we all create our own paths with our choices. Even the smallest deed will have consequences.”

Ensiferum continued to trade places on stage with beginning-of-tour enthusiasm, and fired up the audience with “Heathen Horde” and the boisterous “Twilight Tavern”. Lead singer Petri Lindroos took a break from intense vocals on the folk-heavy track “Lai Lai Hei”, and they shifted into “Way of the Warrior”, another catchy fan favorite from “Two Paths”.

Absent from the stage was Netta Skog, Ensiferum’s most recent female member and accordionist who left the group in 2017 to pursue other musical avenues. The band held auditions in November 2018 for a new member, who will join future studio and tour endeavors.

“We were really blown away with the quality and quantity of the applications. There were many musicians that will go far in music, I’m 100% sure. I can’t reveal any info of our decision but that day is getting closer and closer,” Hinkka said.

The set continued with the punk-metal-disco track “Two of Spades”, which prompted the disco ball to flicker light across Irving Plaza as Lindroos played a funky guitar solo. Hinkka and Toivonen exchanged glances as the bass rumbled the stage, and they rounded out the set with an encore of “Guardians of Fate” and “In My Sword I Trust”.

Hinkka said that the band strives to maintain an energetic presence and orchestral sound from start to finish.

“For us it’s lot about the interaction with the crowd. When the crowd goes crazy it gives us lots of extra boost and play like there is no tomorrow. That’s the greatest feeling in the world,” Hinkka said.

“Two Paths of Glory Tour” dates include:

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