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With their steel drawn and warpaint on full display, Ensiferum, the Melodic Folk Metal heroes from Helsinki, Finland took the stage at Bossanova Ballroom in Portland, Oregon ready to conquer. Their seventh full-length album, Two Paths, has been widely accepted as the epitome of modern Folk Metal while also being hailed as a return to a more organic sound for the band. With their Finnish Melodic Folk Metal brethren, Kalmah in support, their Path to Victory is paved in gold as well as the bones of all that stand in their path.

The Progressive, Extreme metal quartet, Aenimus, started off the night to a brutal start. Promoting their latest album Dreamcatcher, the Californian metal act played a crushing set that surely brought more than a few dedicated followers into their circle. And with their dynamic vocalist, Alex Green riling up the audience to their metallic onslaught at every turn, Aenimus are sure to be a band that will be bringing new blood into their inner circle for years to come. 

Like walking through a forgotten cemetery on a dreary night, a haunting fog swallowed the stage. A hooded silhouette broke through the haze and lifted its bass in the air. Over time the extreme metal band, Abigail Williams, has gradually stripped themselves of their symphonic complexity during their live show and embraced their raw, bone grinding, black metal roots. Their latest album, Walk Beyond the Dark, is an amalgamation of 15 years of hard work and perseverance. Ken Sorceron, bandleader and songwriter, has been carving out his place in the foreboding corners of the metal spectrum. They were a brilliant contrast to the sunlit pastures of the coming Finnish Folk Metal storm.

The mood quickly steered towards the light as the fog cleared and Finnish Swamplords, Kalmah, stood proudly in front of  their leather-clad, kilt wearing followers. The surprisingly, upbeat Finnish leader of Kalmah, Pekka Kokko, smiled at the audience, surprised at how full the venue was on a Tuesday night. Along with his brother, lead guitarist, Antti Kokko, they raised their guitars and launched through their single, “The Evil Kin,” off their latest release, Palo. They continued their trek through their soggy, moss-laden past with the introspective, “The Third, The Magical” and “Seventh Swamphony,” off their most-celebrated album, Swampsong. They ended the night with an epic journey into the everlasting dark with their song, “Hades” from their first studio-album, Swamplord.

The triumphant and battle-clad, Finnish Folk Metal masters, Ensiferum have been storming stages all across the world since their 2001 debut, the self-titled, Ensiferum,  and have been sharpening their steel-laden brand of Folk Metal ever since.   As the show began, lead vocalist and guitarist, Petri Lindroos, addressed the elephant in the room, thanking everyone in attendance for choosing to see them over King Diamond who was booked to play the same night in Portland. Ensiferum sang uplifting chants of victory and unsheathed a barrage of their favorite battle cries, “Blood is the Price of Glory,” “Way of the Warrior,” and “In My Sword I Trust,” as well as invoking their inner Manowar with their latest single, “For Those About to Fight for Metal.” The night ultimately led to the triumphant, “Victory Song” off their third studio album, Victory Songs. And with a fist brandishing the sign of metal raised to the gods, guitarist and sole remaining founder of the band, Markus Toivonen smiled in glory over his dedicated following.

Ensiferum’s tour may be coming to a close but their Path to Glory is anything but. Their latest album, Two Path’s sets a new precedent in the evolution of Melodic Folk Metal, and with their brothers-in-arms, Kalmah riding closely beside them, there’s no telling what surprises these two have in-store over the horizon.

Raul Soria Jr.

Photojournalist - Portland

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