Finntroll / Ensiferum / The Wake
14 April 2004
Camden Underworld, London

Try as we might, we unfortunately couldn`t even find anyone to turn us down, never mind offer us a photo pass tonight, so I`m afraid you`ll have to make do with our snaps from the crowd.

The Underworld saw a Finnish invasion tonight and first up were The Wake. Having never heard them before, the bleak imagery of their merchandise and name lead me to think that something doomy was in store. However as they blast into opener Souls Encounter, Johan and I look at each other and both agree, early-In Flames.

The sound throughout the night was not particularly loud which for The Wake meant you could hear the neat guitar interplay of Jani Luttinen and Sakari Lempinen, the later hidden behind a wall of hair, Cousin It style, for the whole set. Unfortunately as the night progressed the guitars seemed to get quieter until they`d all but disappeared for Finntroll, meanwhile, the bass seemed to get louder.

Vocalist / bassist Kaj Michelsson`s between song introductions brought to mind Opeth`s Mikael Akerfeldt, with his deep very laid back voice, which was totally at odds to the rasping death metal delivery of his vocals.

Darkness Of Mine closed the short well received set with Michelsson thanking the crowd and hoping to come back. We met guitarist Jani Luttinen in the bar later, who was very humble about our praise of his band. Jani told us that the next album will be more in the style of The Haunted and Slayer.

The Wake Set List:
Souls Encounter / Murder One / Whenever I Suffer / Deep Silent Dead / Darkness Of Mine

It was obvious that Ensiferum were very much anticipated by the crowd tonight, but I`m sure a good number, including myself hadn`t realised we were watching a stand in vocalist / guitarist. It wasn`t until after the gig that I learned that Jari Mäenpää had very recently left the band to concentrate on his own project Wintersun. Having not found a permanent replacement, Petri Lindroos of Norther had stepped in to ensure the European tour could go ahead.

Usually such makeshift circumstances are obvious from the performance, but Lindroos had done a great job of learning both the guitar lines and lyrics and nothing was even mentioned. On reflection Lindroos` vocals do register a bit higher than Mäenpää in more of a black metal style.

Ensiferum describe their sound as "heroic folk death metal" which is pretty accurate and it`s that folk element, whilst not as prevalent as with Finntroll, that gives them a unique Finnish sound.

The set started with the opening two songs of their debut, Hero In A Dream and Token Of Time. Some of the photos on their website had caused a few giggles but tonight the band had just opted to don black lines under their eyes.

New album Iron has not yet been released and Ensiferum treat us to two previews in Tale Of Revenge and the short speedy Slayer Of Light. It would seem from these that it is business as usual with no dramatic change of style.

The grinding Old Man saw strong hymn like backing vocals from the rest of the band and the mix afforded us chance to actually hear the keyboards of Meiju Enho, something of a rarity at the Underworld.

Not a long set, probably given the line-up change, but sufficient as an appetizer to want to catch the band again.

Ensiferum Set List:
Hero In A Dream / Token Of Time / Tale Of Revenge / Windrider / Old Man (Väinämöinen) / Slayer Of Light / Battle Song

Having experienced a great fun set of Finnish 'humppa' style folk metal at Sweden Rock, I was greatly looking forward to catching Finntroll again. On that occasion we bumped into them, rather the worse for wear and had told them that the UK would show up to see them if they came over and indeed they did.

For a band with precious little press there was a good and very enthusiastic turn out and t-shirts seemed to be selling like hot-cakes. Manniskopesten from the new album kicked things off, but being unfamiliar to most, it was actually second song Slaget vid Blodsälv and it`s infectious hummpa that really ignited the set.

Trollhorn`s keyboards were suitably loud in the mix to get the polka going and he appeared to be dressed in a potato sack! The biggest disappointment however was that Skrymer and Routa`s guitars were practically inaudible and the soundman didn`t appear to notice.

Despite sound deficiencies the performance was barking! How many other bands have 1minute songs about being attacked by trolls in a sauna? (Bastuvisan)

Vocalist Wilska seemed to speak English in a surprisingly American accent and helpfully introduced pretty much every song with a bit of translation in some cases.

Full marks to rhythm section B. Dominator and Tundra who drove along the likes of Trollhammaren which was greeted like an old friend. Mid song, during Kitteldags, Finntroll seamlessly break into the theme from The Adams Family.

The crowd were ready for "a hunting time" with Jaktens Tid and the trollfolk seemed to have partaken of the "ancient mushroom" with Ursvamp. At Dragonforce at this same venue recently, swords were held aloft so it was fitting that for Fiskarens Fiende (fisherman`s enemy), someone was brandishing a plastic cutlass!

A metalled up Försvinn Du Som Lyser, from acoustic album Visor om Slutet is dedicated to the late Somnium, as it was the last song he wrote and was a fitting tribute. But, that sombre moment aside, it was complete mayhemic nonsense and I couldn`t help grinning throughout.

A "song of victory" was therefore justifiable and Segersäng obliged before predictably RivFader brought the merriment to an end.

How far can Finntroll go with this? Who knows. They seem to be still on the accent and certainly there was a lot of happy troll folk leaving the venue tonight. However, I`m not sure my spellchecker could handle another Finntroll gig for a little while!

Finntroll Set List:
Manniskopesten / Slaget vid Blodsälv / Midnattens Widunder / Trollhammaren / Kitteldags / Jakens Tid / Ursvamp / Fiskarens Fiende / Svartberg / Försvinn Du Som Lyser / Nattfudd / Bastuvisan / Grottans Barn / Segersäng / RivFader