One of the most-anticipated releases of the Finnish metal scene this year surely was folk metal act ENSIFERUM‘s “Thalassic.” Being one of the bands that got hit most by the pandemic in Finland, the band decided to celebrate the release date of their newest album equipped with their brand new keyboard player, Pekka Montin. The band would play a show at a transformed Sonic Pump Studios on 10 July 2020.
A bit later than scheduled, the band started out with their latest single, “Andromeda,” revealing a casual setting and atmosphere among the band. Dressed in black clothes and leaving out their usual stage outfits, as well as the war paint. “Andromeda” uncovered what I already had expected – “Thalassic” is more like “Thalas-sick.” These songs sound great live and the addition of Montin behind the keyboards is excellent. “Andromeda” provided an energetic start to what would prove to be an outstanding evening. The band continued with “Deathbringer from the Sky,” from “Victory Songs.” The song starts with an iconic scream, this time provided by Montin, a great start to fuel the furious song that is somewhat of a fan-favorite.
“In My Sword I Trust” made the virtual audience even more excited, amplified by the mention of Petri Lindroos’ slippers. In fact, the chat started to change its direction with a lot of questions and compliments about Lindroos’ style. “Rum, Women, Victory” followed and made me suddenly nostalgic for real-life concerts, as I’m sure a mosh pit would have been conjured in the midst of the festival crowd, while in a different section of the audience, there would have probably been a conga line or a lot of maniacs headbanging as if there was no tomorrow. Covid-19, when you’re eradicated, I’m going to do all three of them on “Rum, Women, Victory” while played live. The band managed to lift up the song immensely by playing it a lot faster than it already is. The power-metal infused solo was accompanied by an excellent scream that was definitely one of the ultimate highlights of the show.
By now, it’s no surprise that when ENSIFERUM played “Treacherous Gods,” Montin again convinced the audience of his worth with incredible clean vocals, harmonizing with bass player Sami Hinkka and guitarist Markus Toivonen, adding extra depth to the song.
Then it was time for a short break where Sami Hinkka invited the legendary radio host or “Chat Girl,” aka Laura Vähähyyppä, who set out to ask the band some fan questions. The virtual chat encouraged Chat Girl to ask about Petri Lindroos’ slippers, but for this round, she stuck to more traditional questions about the album.
The second set started with the intro, “Ajattomasta Unesta,” which was followed by the more recent, “For Those About to Fight for Metal,” one of the most energetic tracks from “Two Paths” and definitely a track that can keep the party vibe going. With “Heathen Horde,” a slower pace followed and a small break was offered by the emotional live debut of “One with the Sea,” where Montin came from behind his keyboards, grabbed a microphone, and gave Lindroos a break from singing. It was obvious that Montin felt a little bit more comfortable behind the keyboards; nevertheless, he kicked things with an impressive scream again. The song starts off with deep vocals, which also didn’t seem to be a big deal for him, leaving me to ponder whether there is anything this guy can’t do?
The band continued with the energetic “Two of Spades” and Lindroos suggested a mosh pit/pillow fight in the living room and someone in the chat even suggested a virtual wall of death. In the middle of the song, there was a disco part, followed by HU-HA chanting and Toivonen singing in Finnish. What a party! The last song of the second set came in sight as Lindroos introduced “Cold Northland.” Montin was so good that he managed to play a piano melody without as much as touching the keyboard. Alright, you got me, I’m only joking, the main melody was playing on a backing track. When the band kicked in, Montin accompanied the melody by playing chords. The song, however, was again proof of how “Thalassic” is probably the band’s best album since “From Afar” and the songs work extremely well in a live setting; a true masterpiece.
After the intensity of the epic, another short pause with a Q&A was introduced. Laura Vähähyyppä returned to the floor and had heard the prayers of the thousands of fans who were wondering about Lindroos’ slippers. The iconic Reinot slippers were introduced to international fans by Hinkka and we heard Montin speak for the first time; a man of few words, like a true Finn.
The third and last set started off with “Into Battle,” an epic song to introduce the last part of this journey. Followed by the live debut of “For Sirens,” which sounded a lot more heavy than its original; it also included a great vocal performance by Petri Lindroos. “Run from the Crushing Tide” seems like the fan-favorite of the new album and is definitely a welcome addition to the setlist with its thundering riffs.
The next track, “The Defence of the Sampo,” featured Pekka Montin on lead vocals, introducing again a different style. For the first time since 2015, ENSIFERUM continued with “Windrider,” a welcome surprise. While during the set, Sami Hinkka was forced to limit his otherwise big movements and headbanging, he let go completely during this track, which was very entertaining to watch. Considering all the happy faces, it seemed like the band was really having fun playing this rare track for the virtual audience around the globe. While all epic stories end, in this case, the last chapter of the evening was “From Afar.”
The chat soon erupted in a huge virtual applause and the crowd demanded more songs; unfortunately, there was nothing left to play, but the band soon joined Chat Girl Laura Vähähyyppä with the last part of the Q&A-session, including silly questions like, “What’s up with your sunglasses, Janne,” and “Can fans ever expect a nude calendar?” If you would like to know the answers to these questions, you can still buy tickets to watch this show for 7 days after the performance.
Altogether, ENSIFERUM made sure to entertain fans with both high-quality songs and funny stage banter, while including the fans in the live stream via the Q&A. The new songs from “Thalassic” sounded exquisite and the addition of Pekka Montin means ENSIFERUM finally have found the missing piece to the puzzle of their sound, leaving me to conclude that I truly miss being able to attend live shows and I can’t wait to hear these songs live!
Written by Laureline Tilkin
2. Deathbringer from the Sky
3. In My Sword I Trust
4. Rum, Women, Victory
5. Treacherous Gods
Intro: Ajattomasta unesta
6. For Those About to Fight for Metal
7. Heathen Hoarde
8. One with the Sea
9. Two of Spades
10. Cold Northland (Väinämöinen pt. III)
11. Into Battle
12. For Sirens
13. Run from the Crushing Tides
14. The Defence of the Sampo
16. From Afar