ENSIFERUM (2019) “Path to Glory Tour” Live Concert Review

  • Venue: The Forge – Joliet, Illinois
  • Date: January 12, 2019
  • Special guests: Septicflesh, Arsis, Dismalimerence
  • Reviewed by Michael Juvinall – Horror Patch
  • *All photos copyright Michael L. Juvinall

For my first show of the new year (2019), it was great to start off with something out of the norm for me. And by out of the norm I mean checking out a type of metal I’ve never really listened to before now. The headliner for tonight’s show is the mighty Ensiferum from Finland. The band labels their sound as melodic folk metal but they’ve also been described as folk death metal. Now this is an interesting combination of subgenres, which makes for a very uncommon sound.

Ensiferum incorporates most of the elements used in traditional folk metal such as keyboards, accordions, and other folk instruments. The band’s lyrics infuse traditional folk mythology such as history, nature, warfare, Viking history and so on. Traditional folk music fused with metal normally features traditional singing or clean singing but Ensiferum’s style features mainly the dark, guttural growls of death metal with only slight clean singing from other band members. Their music is also much heavier than traditional folk metal.

As I have said before, I was never a fan of folk metal but Ensiferum’s sound is so refreshing to me that it was a breath of fresh air and opened a new avenue of heavy metal for me.

I want to take a moment to thank everyone at The Forge in Joliet, Illinois for putting on another great show. The Forge is the premiere venue in the south western suburbs of Chicago for live music and they consistently attract the best acts in the rock and metal world for almost two years now. Kudos to them!

Opening the show was local Joliet black metal band, Dismalimerence. This was their first live gig I was reading on their Facebook page.

The band was young with not a lot of experience but I’m sure it was a huge deal to open for Ensiferum on this stop, so kudos to them. Their music was solid and followed the typical tropes of atmospheric black metal. Their lead singer had the appropriate screeching voice that works so well for the genre.

The band sounded good and they played for 30 minutes. With more experience and gigs will come better sound. Not a bad group.

2 1/2 Pentagrams!

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Next up on the bill was Virginia based death metal group ARSIS. I had been following this band closely because their latest album, Visitant, was based on the band’s favorite horror films and was a kick-ass album.

The band was aggressive in their music and were all great musicians. Vocalist and founder James Malone led the way with growling vocals and rhythm guitar. He got the crowd into the show and belted out their songs with great aplomb. They were very professional sounding but were a bit static in their delivery.

Arsis played for 30 minutes and managed to get songs from most of their discography in the set.

Arsis setlist:

  1. Tricking the Gods
  2. Handbook for the Recently Deceased
  3. We Are the Nightmare (with “Rock You Like a Hurricane” intro)
  4. Hell Sworn
  5. The Promise of Never
  6. The Face of My Innocence
3 1/2 Pentagrams!

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Next to hit the stage was Greek symphonic death metallers SEPTICFLESH. This was the band on the bill I was most looking forward to seeing live. I’ve been a fan of their music for a while now – and they didn’t disappoint.

Septicflesh stormed the stage and killed it! The crowd loved these guys and their stage presence and musicality is awesome. Growling vocalist Spiros Antoniou is a force to be reckoned with, I simply love his vocal style. Spiros seemed genuinely appreciative of the crowd and their energy during their set, I love to see that.

The band was touring in promotion of their latest album, Codex Omega. They played songs from a good amount of their discography. The high points of their set included “Martyr”, “Anubis”, and “Pyramid God”. Their set lasted for 45 minutes.

On a side note, their final song, “Dark Art” was cut short because someone in the pit got seriously hurt and hit his head. Paramedics had to be called and the unfortunate gent had to be transported. While this doesn’t happen as often as you would think, it does sometimes happen and hopefully the guy was okay.

Septicflesh setlist:

  1. Portrait of a Headless Man
  2. The Vampire from Nazareth
  3. Martyr
  4. Prototype
  5. Pyramid God
  6. Enemy of Truth
  7. Anubis
  8. Dark Art
4 Pentagrams!

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ENSIFERUM – The headliners of the night hit the stage! – The near capacity crowd went nuts when the band walked out. Not being a fan of folk metal, I was surprised that all these people were so into this band. I mean, metal itself is not as mainstream and this relatively obscure sub-genre is even more outside of the mainstream. But by the end of the night, I myself was becoming a fan of this band.

The energy of the band was infectious, and it turned out to be a fun set. You wouldn’t think that folk and death metal could go together but Ensiferum manage to pull it off incredibly.

Guitarist Petri Lindroos is the main singer and provides the growling, death metal vocals. He does quite a good job with the dirty singing. The other guitarists provide the clean vocals. The cool thing about this band is they trade off on singing duties depending on the song. Some of their songs have clean vocals and some require Lindroos’ growling harsh singing.

Many of their songs are more melodic, making for a lot of back and forth singing opportunities with the crowd. This created a fun atmosphere, and everyone was having a really great time. Many of their songs came from their most recent album, Two Paths, as well as smattering of hits from previous albums.

The band played for about 75 minutes with an encore that included a short cover of Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine”.

Ensiferum really changed my opinion of the sub-genre of folk metal and I now have a more open mind about this kind of music. Well done!

Ensiferum setlist:

  1. For Those About to Fight for Metal
  2. Two Paths
  3. Heathen Horde
  4. Twilight Tavern
  5. Treacherous Gods
  6. Lai Lai Hei
  7. Warrior Without a War
  8. From Afar
  9. Wanderer
  10. Way of the Warrior
  11. Two of Spades


  1. Guardians of Fate
  2. In My Sword I Trust
  3. Iron
  4. Sweet Child O’ Mine (Guns N’ Roses cover)
4 Pentagrams!

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About Michael Juvinall (6344 Articles)
I am a devoted husband and father. I have been a voracious horror fan since the early age of 5 and metal fan since I was 14. I watch all horror films but my great loves are classic horror films: Universal Monsters, Werewolves, Hammer Horror and an all-around affinity for things that go bump in the night! I'm also a huge fan of extreme metal music.

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