Ensiferum / Metsatöll – Belfast, Limelight 2 – 21 February 2016

“And lo, the [heathen] hordes from the East did descend up the city at the mouth of the river called the Farset… and they did lay waste onto the same with their furious vengeance and the spilling of much ancestral blood.”

OK, forgive the pastiche of sub-Biblical phraseology, but it did seem appropriate as it was upon the Christian Sabbath that Finnish metallians Ensiferum chose to make their debut in this little corner of the moshing planet by the name of Belfast…

AltusFirst to raise their swords (or should that be axes?) in anger this particular eventide, however, are local heroes Altus.  They deliver a tight, solid performance, which gets the heads on the stagefront barrier nodding right from the off, and continues to keep them going throughout their allotted set time.  Their version of Sabbath’s ‘Children Of The Grave’ translates well to their melodic death metal sound, and helps to cement the warm reception they receive from the early comers.

MetsatollThe battle cries grow louder as Metsatöll launching into their fist-pumping traditional folk metal .  They combine thumping metallic riffs with sweeping traditionla melodies and harmonies.  Unfortunately, they suffer from a poor vocal mix, which is muddy and indistinct, while the huge crunching bass lines dominate, as the guitar is also remarkably low in the mix.  With the band singing, largely, in their native Estonian, no one can understand a single fucking word they’re singing anyway:  but, that doesn’t stop the place going buck daft in the revelry of their fiery, beer-drinking enjoyment, and the quartet quit the stage to a suitably deserved rapturous round of applause.

Ensiferum‘s particular battle cry is sounded right from the off as they raise their ‘Axe Of Judgement’ upon high, and it is answered with fervid enthusiasm by the assembled metallians with their voices and fists both raised high, as the band in turn deliver rabble-rousing hymns to lead the assembed hordes.

EnsiferumBy ‘Burning Leaves’ they have the whole place jumping with their huge melodies and crunching bass over-topped with hyperbolic vocal harmonies.  ‘From Afar’ ignites a fierce moshpit, and the crowd are totally rabid not only in their response but also in their knowledge of the band’s back catalogue, as the majority are singing along to every word.  The band, in turn, display an infectious energy;  they’re tight yet energetic, and unrelenting in their ability to keep the audience dancing, jumping and singing:  hell, they even “play some hoompah” and it’s an amazing sight to see a heavy metal crowd going completely mental to an accordian solo!

‘Unsung Heroes’ is music for drinking your ale from the skulls of your enemies, while main set closer ‘Twilight Tavern’ sees the place going completely fucking insane, with the pit totally rampant in its enjoyment, before they return to lead the assembled warriors ‘Into Battle’ once more.  It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen such an enthusiastic, venue-filling response to a single band, but Ensiferum completely and totally deserved the magnanimous reaction they deserved tonight as they set the bar for the raft of metal shows which are heading to this particular planet we call Mosh \m/

Set list:

Axe Of Judgement / Heathen Horde / Burning Leaves / From Afar / Warrior Without A War / Treacherous Gods / Ahti / Unsung Heroes / My Ancestors’ Blood / Two Of Spades / Twilight Tavern


Into Battle / In My Sword I Trust / Iron

  • Photographs by Marc Leach.
  • All content © PlanetMosh 2016. Not to be reproduced in part or in whole without prior permission.
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About Mark Ashby

no longer planetmosh staff