So the Bears of the Sword tour finally hit Manchester on the 19th of September and featuring a bill of Amoral, Profane Omen and folk metal titans Ensiferum it surely featured to be an impressive tour.
Amoral kicked things off with their blend of technical and progressive metal. With earlier songs falling under the technical death metal side of the metal spectrum and newer releases featuring a more progressive vibe Amoral served to be an interesting spectacle. Their short set served to whip the crowd up in anticipation for what was to come and it only come across as mediocre. The groove style riffs resembling Pantera were a nice touch to draw the audience in but vocal work was only adequate. (6)
Next up was Profane Omen who added their style of groove metal which the band label as ‘death n’ roll’ This peculiar label included a combination of musicianship that resembled the traits in death metal yet vocals included a style that fell more under the glam and classic rock side of the rock/metal genre. Again, like Amoral, Profane Omen musically sounded great yet flat vocal work left the audience rigid. (7)After two support acts that seemingly acted solely as crowd warmers it was time for headliners Ensiferum. Ensiferum are considered to be one of the giants of the folk metal scene with a 17 year career and six albums under their belt. With the latest studio release, ‘Unsung Heroes’ released less than a month before the Manchester performance it was obvious that the set would comprise of several tracks from the latest album. Instrumental opener ‘Symbols’ and ‘In My Sword I Trust’ served true to this statement and was greeted with thunderous applause. ‘Unsung Heroes’, single ‘Burning Leaves’ and ‘Pohjola’ all made an appearance over the course of their set making the majority of the set comprised of songs from ‘Unsung Heroes’. Yet despite this majority of new tracks Ensiferum’s strongest aspect was the catalogue of classics that were performed to perfection. The epic that is ‘Heathen Throne’ was played in full, ‘Guardians of Fate’, ‘Twilight Tavern’, ‘Iron’, ‘Lai Lai Hei’ and numerous others made up the 16 song setlist and it ultimately showcased why Ensiferum have survived a vast career. Musically, Ensiferum were tight and on form. Petri’s vocals were harsh and of studio quality, guitar and bass work by Markus, Petri and Sami were outstanding, Jaane’s drumming ferocious and Emmi’s work as a backing vocalist and keys sounded the trademark of the folk metal scene. To conclude, it was clear from tonight’s performance why Ensiferum are still the biggest folk metal band around. (9)