There will be running and galloping, the drawing of swords, a rain of arrows. There will be battle axes and torches at night, the cleaving of bone, the wailing of women. There will be longboats on the rivers, blood will be spilled, heroes will be made. There will be kilts and animal skins and war paint. There will be victory songs and anthems to the ancestors. And they will all fucking rock.
Yesterday our installment in this series highlighted two bands that had varying degrees of folk-metal influence in their sound. Today, we’re wading deeper into Finnish folk-metal waters — but not just any kind of folk metal. It’s folk metal with lots of fucking swords.
Ensiferum is the Latin word for “sword-bearer”. The band was founded in 1995, and since their formation, Ensiferum have released four full-length albums, one EP, one compilation, three singles, and three demo albums. We’re not familiar with the full discography, but we know and like the last two albums — Victory Songs (2007) and From Afar (2009). We also got the chance to see them play in Seattle, and they’re even better live than on disc — they know how to whip a crowd into a frenzied, frothing mass of motion.
Ensiferum take the speedy, flashy mix of keyboard- and guitar-driven Finnish melodeath popularized by Children of Bodom and color it with folkish melodies and lyrical themes that speak of legends and myths and heroes with swords. They feature a mix of harsh and clean vocals, epic Viking chants, and fast-as-shit riffing and rhythms. (more after the jump, including a shitload of music and some exciting tour news . . .)
The two Ensiferum albums we know include a whole bunch of catchy, romping tunes that make us want to run through the woods with blades, looking for a worthy foe to disembowel. Picking samples from those albums was tough, because there are so many good ones. But in the end, we picked two.
The first is for the song “Ahti” from the album Victory Songs:
The second video we’ve got for you is for the song “Twilight Tavern” from Far Away. It includes shots of the band setting up, tuning up, and letting it all hang out in a live performance. It will kick your ass all the up between your shoulder blades:
Next year, Ensiferum will be touring the U.S. and Canada with Finntroll, Rotten Sound, and Barren Earth in the second installment of THE FINNISH METAL TOUR — and that tour will be in Seattle on February 12. Guess who will be there? For all the dates and places, go here.
And then after that, Ensiferum will be supporting Children of Bodom on a world tour that also includes Amon Amarth on selected stops. We’ve got the initial line-up of European dates at the end of this post. We assume there will eventually be a NorthAm segment for this tour. Get stoked.
Don’t put your swords and axes down just yet, because Turisas is coming your way next. Battle metal anyone?
Turisas is another Finnish metal band with heavy folk influences that feature the accordion and violin in their music. They’ve released two albums to date, 2004’s Battle Metal and 2007’s The Varangian Way (the Varangians being Vikings who invaded lands to the south and east of Scandinavia, including the Ukraine and Russia).
The music is a mix of folk-, viking-, and power metal, with mostly clean singing. Where Ensiferum dons kilts for their stage performances, Turisas strap on leather and animal skins, smear war paint over their faces, and hit the stage looking like they’ve just bathed in the blood of their enemies. And that “Battle Metal” title has become something of a metal genre label in some quarters.
Turisas has a new album in the works. To be entitled Stand Up and Fight, it’s scheduled for release by Century Media on January 31, 2011, in Europe and on February 8 in North America. Beginning in late January, they’ll be touring North America with Cradle of Filth, Nachtmystium, and Daniel Lioneye. Now if that isn’t a bizarre collection of bands on a single bill, we don’t know what is. Can’t wait to see what those crowds look like. And yes, we will get to see that for ourselves, because this tour is stopping in Seattle! For all the dates and places, go here.
We’ve got three Turisas music videos for you. The first two are high-quality vidz of live performances, featuring one song each from the band’s two albums. Here’s the first, the title track from Battle Metal:
The next video features a song from the more recent album, The Varangian Way. It’s a live performance of “To Holmgard and Beyond”:
One more video. It’s for another song from The Varangian Way, called “Rasputin”. We nearly didn’t include this video, because it’s so ridiculous. The word “epic” just flies right out the window. Certainly a change of scene for these feral warriors. Still, the song is fun.
And now, here are the dates for the first leg of that COB world tour that includes Ensiferum and, on select dates, Amon Amarth:
The Ugly World Tour 2011
European headlining tour
Opener: Machinae Supremacy
* = Additional support: Amon Amarth
March 19 – Teatria, Oulu (FIN)
March 20 – Pakkahuone, Tampere (FIN)
March 22 – Ice Hall, Helsinki (FIN)
March 24 – Arenan, Stockholm (SWE)
March 25 – Trädgårn, Gothenburg (SWE)
March 26 – Rockefeller, Oslo (NOR)
March 27 – Vega, Copenhagen (DEN)
March 29 – Grosse Freiheit 36, Hamburg (GER)
March 30 – O13, Tilburg (NED)
April 1 – UEA, Norwich (UK)*
April 2 – Academy 1, Manchester (UK)*
April 3 – ABC, Glasgow (UK)*
April 5 – Vicar Street, Dublin (IRL)*
April 7 – Rock City, Nottingham (UK)*
April 8 – Academy, Birmingham (UK)*
April 9 – Forum, London (UK)*
April 11 – Turbinenhalle, Oberhausen (GER)
April 12 – Z7, Pratteln (CH)
April 13 – Alcatraz, Milan (ITA)
April 16 – Gagarin 205, Athens (GR)
April 18 – Kucukciftilik Park, Istanbul (TUR)
April 19 – Universiada Hall, Sofia (BUL)
April 20 – Arenele Romane, Bucharest (ROM)
April 22 – Petöfi Csarnok, Budapest (HUN)
April 23 – Backstage, Munich (GER)
April 24 – Stadthalle, Langen (GER)
April 26 – Stodola, Warsaw (POL)
April 27 – KD Vltavska, Prague (CZE)
April 28 – Arena, Vienna (AUS)
April 29 – Posthof, Linz (AUS)
April 30 – Werk 2, Leipzig (GER)
May 2 – Elysee Montmatre, Paris (FRA)
May 3 – Krakatoa, Bordeaux (FRA)
May 5 – Club Hard, Porto (POR)
May 6 – La Riviera, Madrid (SPA)
May 7 – Razzmatazz 1, Barcelona (SPA)
May 8 – Rock Star Live, Bilbao (SPA)
May 9 – Le Bikini, Toulouse (FRA)
May 11 – LKA Longhorn, Stuttgart (GER)
May 12 – Rockhal, Esch / Alzette (LUX)
May 13 – Atak, Enschede (NED)
May 14 – Halle Gartlage, Osnabruck (GER)
May 15 – Hof Ter Lo, Antwerp (BEL)