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A good way to celebrate - 90%

Svarthavid, May 7th, 2009

This DVD was released to celebrate Ensiferum’s 10 years in action, and I was very impressed!

The concert was recorded on Newyears eve 2005 in Helsinki, Finland. I’m a huge fan of Ensiferum, and have long wondered what they would sound like live, since I’ve never got to see them myself, and it’s a killer performance! The instruments sound almost exactly as it does in the studio, no fuckups or something like that. The only thing which is a bit of a downside is the vocals. Jari was a great, great vocalist, and I think it’s quite hard to replase him. Petri Lindroos of Norther was not the greatest choice in my opinion. He sounds good in the studio, but live he sounds forced. His microphone also have an annoying effect on it, sounding like he is singing inside a box or something. The vocals of Markus Toyvonen and Sami Hinka was a surprise, however. Sinse Jari had such a majestic and room filling voice, I thought this would not be half as great, but as I said, I was surprised in a positive way. Markus, I think, sounds a bit hilarious though, being a 28 year old or something, he sounded more like my age. although Markus struggles with hitting the notes sometimes, it’s just charming, because Ensiferum isn’t supposed to be Iron Maiden or a power metal band with ultrahigh notes and extremely good technical singing or something.

The song selection was very good. I never had a boring time listening to this. Although I was hoping they could play Little Dreamer or Sword Chant, but maybe Markus would have a really hard time singing those Halford like notes in the latter. The consert starts with the intro from their debut album, and then kicks into Hero in a dream, one of the best songs of the Ensiferum discography. It continues with great songs like Tale of revenge, Guardians of fate, Lai Lai hei, Token of time, Iron, and of course, the closer, Battle song.

There’s also two guests on this, Kaisa Sari on Tears and Finnish medley, which she also did in the studio. I think she did a very good job, almost better than in the studio. We also have that Ville Tuomi guy from Amorphis, adding vocals on their cover of the Amorphis song, Into hiding. I must admit, I haven’t heard much of that band, but he does a relatively good performance. I think his screams in the beginning of the song is awesome! Maybe a band worth checking out a little more?

The production is also good, but it could have been a little louder, but that can have something to do with my TV. Although as I have stated earlier, Petri’s microphone is horrible! As the previous reviewer also have mentioned, the crowd should have been a bit louder in the mixing, but it’s not something to wine much about.

I recommend you to buy this if you are an Ensiferum fan, but if you are new to them, I strongly advise you to check out their albums first. But it’s a nice addition to a folk metalers collection.

Highlights: Hero in a dream, Token of time, Tale of revenge, trechorous gods, Lai Lai Hei, Iron, and Battle song.

Powerful Live Performance - 88%

Ancient_Minstrel, October 31st, 2006

I bought this 10th Anniversary DVD by Ensiferum, not being really sure what to expect. I love Ensiferum, but I had never heard the performing live, and they have never been to Sweden yet. After seeing this, I am even more eager for them to come here.

This DVD contains 21 songs performed by Ensiferum and a bonus track by Finntroll, which really was the opener of the concert. Because it was performed first, let us take it first. The song is a nice short instrumental which begins with Tapio Wilska singing “Happy Birthday to You” in Finnish.

Ensiferum enter the stage to the sound of the intro to their first album, and after that it never gets boring. The have in my opinion chosen the right songs for this gig. It is a mix of different ones, and all the best are here, except the two wonderful tracks “Lost in Despair” (which may not be that good live though) and “Little Dreamer (Väinämöinen part 2).

Throughout the concert the band delivers a solid, ass-kicking performance. Markus Toivonen and Petri Lindroos play extremely well and the guitars sound just as good as on the albums. Sami Hinkka is really devoted and he and Toivonen have a great cooperation during the concert. Janne Parviainen’s drumming is really solid. Even though he sometimes looks a little bored, his playing is really not affected by it. Perhaps he is just concentrated. Meiju Enho is great with her keyboards and bangs her head throughout the entire concert which is nice to see, because some keyboard players don’t look this committed on stage. (And I know that this is irrelevant but, my god, she is hot!)

When it comes to the vocals, the performance is not as perfect all the way. I think that Petri Lindroos does not quite reach the standard of Jari Mäenpää. His growls are often too shrill for my taste, and in the beginning of the concert his singing does not sound that emotional. But the quality varies through the concert, and on some tracks, for example the closer: “Battle Song”, he is really great. The clean singing is carried out by Markus Toivonen and Sami Hinkka, and at first their vocals are a bit weak, but later on, especially in the last three songs, they sing louder, and the songs really benefit from this.

The best tracks on here are “Tale of Revenge”, “Warrior’s Quest”, “Iron”, “Token of Time”, “Into Battle” and “Battle Song”. The last three of those I consider some of the best Ensiferum songs on record too, but the first three are better live. I think “Iron”, which starts the encore, contains the best performance of them all. “Battle Song” is a great closer and the band carries on a short while to an epic finish after the song’s real end.

Two short guest appearances are included: Kaisa Saari sings the two songs “Finnish Medley” and “Tears”, which she also sings on Ensiferum’s records, and Ville Tuomi from Amorphis sings the Amorphis cover “Into Hiding”. He is really enthusiastic throughout and jumps around like a speeded squirrel, which is kind of fun. Saari does not quite reach the level of the records. I am a little disappointed in her performance.

The only thing that I feel is a pity with this DVD is that the audience is not heard that much. And it would have been nice with a little more camera focus on them. Otherwise the camera perspectives are many and nicely placed. The problem with the audience is probably not due to lacking enthusiasm; some of the times you see the audience they are really wild and frantic. The problem is probably that the venue is too small to create a really powerful fan-sing-along. I don’t know why such a small place was chosen. Maybe Ensiferum could not fill a larger venue? But if they could, I think it would have been even better.

As the finish of this review I say that this DVD is recommended for all fans of Ensiferum, and also to all other fans of Viking, Folk and Melodic Death Metal. Even though I would check out their albums first, if I had not heard them.