Live at The Regent Theatre
Los Angeles, CA
January 21st, 2019
Review and photos by Travis Baumann
Finnish folk metal heroes, Ensiferum return to Los Angeles in all their glory as they embark on the "Two Paths" North American tour. It has been four long years since the ferocious battle metal titans had ventured onto this side of the pond and they were here to take no prisoners.
They opened the set with a song that is as anthemic as you can get in this genre with "For Those About to Fight for Metal". Ensiferum are Markus Toivonen on guitars and clean vocals, Petri Lindroos on harsh vocals and guitars, Sami Hinkka on bass guitar and backing vocals, and Janne Parviainen on drums.
Hitting the title track from their latest album and tour's namesake, "Two Paths" launched a trip through their entire back catalog. They played "Heathen Horde" from "One Man Army" followed by "Twilight Tavern" off the album "From Afar".
The crowd enthusiastically sang along to every song, the entire while a massive churning circle pit rotated through the center of the main floor area. "Treacherous Gods" from their self titled debut brought thunderous applause which crescendoed as the song shifted over to "Lai Lai Hei", culminating in the loudest sing along of the night.
While Petri is in way of sorts the lead singer of the band, on this tour both Markus and Sami sang more than ever before. Markus's clean vocals lent extra melody to the songs and Sami ranged back and forth from adding some harsh aggression to additional melodic voice.
The set continued with "Warrior Without a War" from "One Man Army" leading into "From Afar" from the album of the same name. "Wanderer" hailing from "Victory Songs" was the sole representative of that album before things came back to the present release with "Way of the Warrior" off of "Two Paths".
The final song of the main set was the popular "Two of Spades" which brought a rowdy close to the initial festivities. The band left the stage as the audience cheered, eventually channeling that energy into chanting "Ensiferum" until the band resurfaced.
The first song of the encore was a crowd favorite with "Guardians of Fate" from their first self-titled release. Despite the evening wearing on, the audience was still full of energy and the renewed moshing spread even wider into the room, die-hard fans charging headlong into the fray for a final bout.
The next song is definitely one of my personal favorites, "In My Sword I Trust". It seemed everyone joined in singing along to the chorus: "Rise my brothers, for we are blessed by steel! In my sword I trust. Arm yourselves, the truth shall be revealed. In my sword I trust. Tyrants and cowards, for metal you will kneel. In my Sword I trust. Till justice and reason we will yield. In my sword I trust."
The driving energy and uplifting lyrics embody the positive message inherent in the warrior themed, folk-infused battle metal. The metaphor for the sword becoming your own iron will in the face of adversity, injustice and tyranny is as important now in the modern times as was the skill and powerful potential of an actual blade in the times of the Vikings.
They closed out the encore with another fan favorite in the form of "Iron" from the album of the same name. The audience emphatically participated up until the last note and as the band left the stage they cheered and cheered.
Before anyone could depart Markus broke into a noisome, chaotic guitar solo which ended up with the guitar up on his shoulders and behind his head. It slowly morphed into a recognizable riff and then the band broke out in a short but hilarious cover of "Sweet Child O' Mine" with Markus knocking out Slash's riffs with the guitar behind his head the entire time and Sami singing the chorus.
They repeated the chorus several times eventually handing off the namesakes' verse to the audience which they resounded back, officially ending the epic performance.
It was a great show, full of energy, awesome music and a lot of fun. Ensiferum never disappoints and I loved their song selection, covering all seven albums spanning their entire twenty-four year run.
I did miss Netta not being in the band anymore as her energy and live accordion did add a lot to their stage presence but at least I got to enjoy her on their previous tour several years ago and still thoroughly enjoyed the outing this time around with the four warriors from Finland. I am already looking forward to their next album and next tour!
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