Live at The House of Blues

West Hollywood, California

April 2nd, 2013

Review and Photos by Travis Baumann

Ensiferum return to Los Angeles, this time headlining Pagafest IV. My first encounter with them was five years ago when they came through on the original run of the North American Pagafest tour.

At the time I had no previous knowledge of the band or experience with their music but even from a cold initiation, I could immediately appreciate their Pagan,Viking power and their unique addition to the genre.

Now five years later I have become a lot more familiar with their albums and their presence. Earlier this year we saw the release of the latest long-player "Unsung Heros".

This album is, in my opinion, their best offering yet and succeeds in covering a wide spectrum of pagan folk metal styles, all while giving the listener what they desire and expect from an Ensiferum album.

The album boldly professes what Ensiferum have always stood for right from the first anthem, "In My Sword I Trust". With Ensiferum being Latin for "Sword Bearing", this the perfect song to start the set out and get everyone moving and cheering.

The band consists of first and foremost, the lead singer also playing guitar front and center. His vocal style is harsh and growling, an angry Viking warrior's cry of battle.

The rest of the band sing backup vocals in unison, giving a powerful war-bands' assistance but they do so in clear, melodic fashion. They utilize an additional guitar and bass, both string players moving about the stage on either side of the singer. Their female keyboard player whips her hair at the rear of the stage alongside their drummer, both adding their voices to the chorus.

The band hail from Helsinki, Finland and in their own words play "Heroic Folk Metal", their songs being about battle and living during the time of tumultuous gods.

Their set list drew upon all five of their albums, giving fans a dose of new and old material together. Their second song of the set came from their debut self-titled release, "Guardians of Fate".

They rounded out the first three songs of the set with one of the only songs coming from their second to latest album, "From Afar" the song bearing the same name as the album itself. This trio of heavy-hitters got the crowd frothing nicely and gave them room to do one of their more melodic pieces of the evening, "Burning Leaves" coming from their latest release. This song utilizes an awesome melodic, melancholic chorus that stands out from the other songs and is one of my personal favorites.

The set continued to weave back and forth from old material to new and set a winding tale of life in the fantastical twilight of Ensiferum. The songs they played included "One More Magic Potion" the only song off of the "Victory Songs" album, "Retribution Shall Be Mine" another great song of their newest release "Unsung Heros", "Tale of Revenge" off of "Iron", the folk sing-along song "Lai Lai Hei", "Treacherous Gods" off of their first album, the awesome "Twilight Tavern" off of "From Afar", and completing the main set with "Iron" off of the album of the same name.

Without much ado, as they were running out of time, they came back out and did "Battle Song" off of their debut album to leave the audience with one of their anthems that started it all. It was a great set and an awesome performance.

Overall the entire night was a great addition to the Paganfest legacy with Tyr and Heidevolk both putting on amazing shows and then to have the night topped off by a career spanning set from the legendary Ensiferum was a great way to punctuate the start of Spring.

Ensiferum put on one hell of a great show and their latest offering, "Unsung Heros" is their finest to date. I highly recommend seeing them live and checking out their brand of "Heroic Folk Metal".

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