A blast from the past. I wrote this article almost one year ago, but never published it. I think it’s about time. That was an amazing concert, probably the best of the many I attended in Helsinki last year.
Frosttide + Ensiferum
Three years after a highly criticized Unsung Heroes, the warriors of Ensiferum were back with a new offering called One Man Army. On their way to conquer the world, they stopped in Helsinki for a fantastic performance.
Jyväskylä’s Frosttide were there to open the show. Having offered a solid show during Heidenfest 2013 in Paris, I thought it would be interesting to see what they had to offer, with one more album out. Alas, the acoustic was disappointing, for the guitars were drowned among the keyboard and the drums. As a result, soli were barely audible, which is a pity for this kind of music. Actually, from the pit the music delivered by Frosttide sounded just like Ensiferum’s music, but simply worse. The blasting was powerful, but no emotion was born from it.
Still the audience was quite responsive, thanks to Felipe. The keyboard player was indeed restless, always asking the crowd to move and shout, but also chatting with his partners between the songs.
The show took off a bit with “Gates of the Asylum”, an epic powerhouse from Blood Oath, but it was clear that Frosttide still needed a bit of practice to be as convincing as their older brothers headlining this evening.
When lights faded and “March of War” started to sound in Nosturi, the excitement of the audience was palpable. As expected, a circle pit erupted in the beginning of “Axe of Judgment”, a pogo so lively it stopped only after the last notes of “Iron” had resonated in the venue. It immediately appeared that the acoustic was excellent, and even though it fluctuated later on, it stayed at a more than acceptable level. A good point, and the occasion for the audience to glimpse the mastery of a talented band. Most noteworthy, the work on vocals was exceptional. To witness Petri introducing an angry growl, then leaving the vocals to Markus and Sami for some epic clean singing, then coming back for a combined conclusion, was a redundant but powerful pattern the band used perfectly in their compositions. And it works when they are on stage, as the uninterrupted singing from the audience could testify.
Besides locals, the technical prowess of the band was stunning: martial rhythms, fast soli, devastating blasting, everything was executed to perfection, leaving the impression of a band at their top-level. Many samples were used, but they never stood out of place. Moreover, all the musicians interacted a lot with each other but also with the audience. Actually, they were surprisingly talkative and made numerous jokes, and even though I understood some words there and then, I deeply regretted not being able to understand Finnish very well. A “pesukone” (washing machine) caught at some point announced the arrival of “Ahti” (Ahti being a god of sea and fishing in Finnish mythology, or a sea-going warrior), celebrated by a fierce circle pit, but most of their speech remained unclear to me. It did not to the audience however, and the whole night was rhythmed by laughter.