A fistful of metal: Photos from the Ensiferum/Septicflesh/Arsis show

[Rock photographer Andrei Chlytchkov was dispatched to Toronto’s Opera House to get up close to a metal triple bill called the Path To Glory Tour. Text by L. Benny Sanders. – AC]

Arsis opened to a crowd packed into the front area of The Opera House.  I spoke with two brothers who traveled from Halifax to be at this concert.  Near the stage, the sound was muddy (slightly better near the back) but the energy was high. 

The band started the set with “Tricking the Gods” (the lead song on their sixth studio album Vistant and which was inspired by werewolf movies). The set also included Hell Swornand closed, the hall bathed in green lightning, with “Face of My Innocence.”

As Septicflesh took the stage, the place seemed to really fill up.  Septicflesh, though not the headliners, was a major draw for this concert.  In their 30th year, this Greek death metal band has a long-standing following.

The presentation was highly technical, very much a theatrical show, and bassist/lead vocalist Spiros Antoniou knows how to hold the attention of a crowd. The sound was clear and driving.  Antoniou was flanked on either side by large panels with images of snakes and reptilian fetuses was dressed in hooded robes and projected the darkness of their music. 

The band opened with “Portrait of a Headless Man” and followed up with the crowd pleaser “The Vampire from Nazareth.”  Much of the set originated on their 2017 album Codex Omega so they used a lot of backing keyboard tracks to complete the experience. No Septicfleshset would be complete without their closing tune “Dark Art.”

Headliners “Ensiferum” (meaning ‘bearer of the sword’) hit the stage like a mighty Nordic wind.  Definitely the most melodic unit of the evening, the hall was body to body from front to back.  With members Petri Lindroos (vocals, guitar),Markus Toivonen (guitar, backing vocals),  Sami Hinkka(bass, vocals) and  Janne Parviainen (drums) the fans finally had their fix of Finnish folk metal. 

AlthoughToivonenhas been with the band since its inception, the majority of the players have performed with “Ensiferum” since the early 2000s.  So every tune that was included in their set (except for covers of “Enter Sandman” by Metallica and encore tune “Sweet Child of Mine”) was a result of this quartet’s collaboration, much of it taken from their seventh album “Two Paths” (released in 2017). 

The only thing missing was “Netta Scog”s accordion playing.  They opened with “For Those About to Fight for Metaland included “Two Paths,” “Warrior Without a War” and “Way of the Warrior.”

Of course, the very likeable, bilingual tune “Lai Lai Hei!” (sing “Sillä aika ompi voittoisa, mut‘ tämä maa on ikuinen”)was included as was “From Afar” and “Twilight Tavern.” 

Notably missing from their performance was “Victory Song”.  As the crowd was not fully satisfied when the band finished with “Two of Spades”, Ensiferum gave us an encore almost half as long as the set itself. 

With the closing notes of the GnR tune, it was all over for this heavy metal smorgasbord.  The fans boarded their knarrs and sailed away to far off destinations. 

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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