Ensiferum / Metsatoll / Pythia

Finland’s folk metallers find the hero within

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Tonight’s openers PYTHIA [5] look the part but they sound like a rusty washing machine.

Knowing how good their folky bombast sounds on record, we can only put it down to a bad day. Conversely, METSATÖLL [7] are epic. Their recipe of bagpipes, flute and throat singing with upbeat, Estonian metal and a Celtic twist gets the whole place in the mood for more.

Metsatöll span the ages

Metsatöll span the ages
(Image: © James Sharrock)

Something’s happened to ENSIFERUM [7] in recent years. It’s like they saw the upward trajectory of Turisas and went, “Yeah, we want a piece of that.” Their latest record, One Man Army, packs as much heroic weight as the battle metal vanguards; chuck in a few Maiden-ish ‘Woah-woahs’ and it’s the stuff that launches their sword-bearing offerings into anthems well-equipped for a headlining show. Opener Axe Of Judgement sounds as massive as a beefy Epica tune and Heathen Horde makes you wish you were born a Viking.

The imposing figures of five leather-clad warriors with faces daubed in black paint lashing out visceral odes about blood, war and Nordic folklore is a strong look and old bangers like Ahti and Into Battle sound great next to new stuff (Two Of Spades is another highlight). Boozy brawl song Twilight Tavern, with stand-in accordionist Netta Skog at the helm, sums up an evening of good, clean Viking fun.