Gig Review: Ensiferum / Ex Deo / Wind Rose – Islington Academy (1st May 2018)

On Tuesday night Katie headed to The O2 Academy in Islington to see Finnish melodic folk-metal band Ensiferum play the only UK date of their 38-show “Road To Glory” European tour, which promised to feature a special set of new, old and rare hits.

Wind Rose (c) Katie Frost

Doors were at the early time of 6pm but I was pleased to see that a large number of people had made it down early to catch the support bands. Upon entry to the venue we were advised that tonight’s show was being filmed… and were then given a choice of either pink or green glow stick to adorn ourselves with. There is a first time for everything!

First to hit the stage were symphonic/folk/power metal band Wind Rose from Italy who strode fearlessly onto the stage dressed in armour and ready for battle. Francesco was an absolute powerhouse on vocals and the rest of the band were just as awesome; Claudio on guitar, Federico on keyboards, Cristiano on bass and Federico (a different one) on drums. All five men looked like they were having a brilliant time windmilling in unison. They mentioned more than once how pleased they were to be playing in London, and how honoured they were to see so many people in the crowd wearing Wind Rose t-shirts.

The band were sadly robbed in Barcelona earlier on in the tour but luckily none of their equipment (or outfits) were stolen so they have been able to continue with the tour, albeit it without some personal items. The band posted the following statement on their Facebook page:

We have been robbed tonight near Barcelona during our tour with Ensiferum. The thieves broke into our bus while we were asleep and stole our personal stuff (laptops, cellphones, credit cards etc…) and cash money for a total value of more than 2000€. We still have the essential things to do a show, so we will try to overcome the damage and do all the remaining shows. If you want to support us just come see our concert and have fun with our music, and maybe buy some merchandise in case you enjoyed the show!

The band’s songs about epic battles were a hit with the crowd and as I watched the rest of their set from the back of the room with a cold beer in hand I could see everyone having a glorious time; from the inflatable sword being held aloft, to the small circle pit that formed. Wind Rose reminded me of a cross between Amon Amarth and Alestorm, and they are definitely a band I would go and see live again. In my notes I wrote whilst I was watching their set I wrote “they look like how listening to this sort of metal makes me feel”, which can only be a good thing!

Ex Deo (c) Katie Frost

Next to take to the stage were Ex Deo who brought their “epic Roman metal” to the now-packed venue and very excitable crowd. Like Wind Rose before them, Ex Deo were clad in armour which added a definite sense of occasion to their performance. Their music was heavy and just what you might expect from a “Roman Legion death metal band”. The Boss had mentioned to me that these guys were great, and he was most certainly right; in my notes it just says “Ex Deo are the f*cking nuts!”. Honestly they blew me away and are one of the best bands I have discovered accidentally since I saw Alestorm supporting DragonForce.

Ex Deo came about as a side project formed by Kataklysm frontman Maurizio Iacono to fuel his desire to combine his passion for the Roman Empire with death metal. While the line-up features fellow Kataklysm members Stéphane Barbe and Jean-François Dagenais on guitars, as well as Oli Beaudoin on drums, together with Dano Apekian on bass, Ex Deo is a far more melodic death metal sound than Kataklysm.

Towards the end of their set Maurizio bellowed to the crowd “we can’t ask you for sex, but we can ask you for blood and war – we want to see some movement London, but be careful with the ladies” – such a considerate Roman warlord. He also said he was pleased to see some people in the crowd dressed in Roman attire, which must have made them feel very at home. It is great when the crowd have come not just to see the headline band but to enjoy the entire evening. There was such a brilliant atmosphere in the room all evening.

Ensiferum (c) Katie Frost

Last to take to the stage were tonight’s headliners Ensiferum from Helsinki, sporting their trademark face-paint, as were a few members of the crowd (it is nice to see people go all-out on a Tuesday night). The band burst onto the stage, met by a wall of cheers from the crowd, and launched straight into “For Those About to Fight for Metal” – surely there is no better way to start your set!

They followed up with the title track from their latest album Two Paths, released last year before treating the crowd to a spectacular set featuring songs from their illustrious back-catalogue, including “Treacherous Gods” and “Tumman Virran Taa” from their 2001 self-titled album, and “Into Battle” from Iron (2004). There was a fantastic atmosphere in the room and the band fed off the energy in the crowd. Janne and Sami provided a satisfyingly deep bassline, complemented with the guitars of Markus and Petri. They ended their set with a cover of the Guns n’ Roses classic “Sweet Child O’ Mine” which was a brilliant end to a fantastic evening of metal.

After completing this run of European headline dates in May the band will be heading out to play some festivals this summer, including Hellfest (France), Metal Days (Slovenia) and Wacken Open Air (Germany). Moshville Times will be at at least two of those!

Photos by Katie Frost Photography

Ensiferum: official | facebook | twitter | instagram

Ex Deo: facebook | twitter | instagram

Wind Rose: official | facebook | twitter | instagram

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