So Metsatöll (meaning “Wolf” in Estonian), kick off first instead. Markus “Rabapagan” Teeää on vocals lights up the venue with the backing of Lauri “Varulven” Õunapuu on bass, Marko Atso on drums, Lauri “Varulven” Õunapuu on vocals and a host of other instruments bagpipes, a recorder, and an elastic band harmonica.
Viking metal is and has been a huge thing, especially in northern Europe and Metsatöll have fans in big numbers here despite singing in Estonian. But it’s not like a northern European country never had a metal band before. Õunapuu has a voice deeper than an operatic bass tenor. One of his utterations is, “Like most historic love songs, this next song … it’s about making beer”. There was something a little “Lord of the Rings”, with the way he spoke…. a bit like Gandalf when he’s throwing a wobbler. There is some native Estonian exchange with some of the locals but we can only wonder as to what was said but all round, it was a bruising encounter where the old style mix of European history meets modern metal. 3.5/5
Ensiferum erupt onstage in true warrior form. Cue the rapturous applause! “Axe of Judgement” ignites the fury that lastly the entire night, and the leaders of the heathen horde are quick to start the festivities. The beautiful Netta Skog looks quite at home filling in for Emmi Silvennoinenon the accordion and Petri Lindroos (despite battling a ferocious toothache) still gives 110% behind the mic. “From Afar” opens up the physically harsh pit sessions and there are more than a few willing participants
Markus Toivonen has a commanding presence on stage as the lead vocalist (and longest serving member of the band). He directs audience in everything they do and they (we) obey without question. There’s some serious atmosphere where it feeds the antics on stage. The Voodoo lounge is looking pretty full after their refurbishment to enable more people into the venue. That’s just fine with Ensiferum – more heathens to join the horde.
“Two of Spades” spews riffs from other musical greats, like Pink Floyd. Petri and Netta show us just what they can do in their instruments (one thing I could never say before is that I never saw an accordion solo at a metal gig. No more, thanks to Netta!). “Unsung Heroes” drops the pace for a little bit until “Twilight Tavern”, puts a stop to that. But it’s not just front-man Markus making the crowd do what he wants. Bass player Sami Hinkka weighs in on that action too and is every bit as effective. Ensiferum are a highly energetic band and they invite their fans to share in the night’s fun.
I feel a bit sorry for Janne Parvainen, as he is hidden behind the monstrous drumkit for the entire night and it feels like he’s missing out. But that’s the sacrifice you make when you’re drumming at 100mph.
Overall, Ensiferum bring a fluid night of Scandinavian flair to Dublin. The first time I saw them was at Wacken in 2008 and it was every bit as energetic and loud as it was tonight. I liked it a lot, as the confidence that each member of the band has in themselves and each other shows when they get on stage. They are embarking on a tour with Fleshgod Apocaplypse in April across Europe, so there will be many more heads bouncing and ribs broken. I daresay a few might belong to me.
Axe of Judgement
Warrior Without a War
My Ancestors’ Blood
Two of Spades
In My Sword I Trust
Words – Shaun Martin
© OVERDRIVE 2016