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 credit: 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.

Holly Wright

With over 10 years’ experience writing for Metal Hammer and Prog, Holly has reviewed and interviewed a wealth of progressively-inclined noise mongers from around the world. A fearless voyager to the far sides of metal Holly loves nothing more than to check out London’s gig scene, from power to folk and a lot in between. When she’s not rocking out Holly enjoys being a mum to her daughter Violet and working as a high-flying marketer in the Big Smoke.