A number of heavy metal genres have developed since the emergence of heavy metal during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Some genres overlap or are difficult to distinguish, but they can be identified by a number of traits such as drumming, tempo, song structure, vocal style and instrumentation. And that is what Montreal received on November 27, 2019 as Finnish folk metal legends Ensiferum came to tour with supporting acts Kalmah and Abigail Williams for a four-hour mixed evening of European and American heavy metal.
It has been well documented that Heavy Metal fans are a very dedicated and passionate bunch and the energy was raw as Ensiferum opened their headlining set. First founded in 1995, they are a Finnish folk band with 7 albums released. Through many personnel changes, they have continued to play and record music based on Nordic concepts and stories. Opening with riffs off of “Ad Victoriam”, lead singer markus Toivenen cranked the riffs for “Blood is the Price of Glory” and then through gas on a hot crowd with “One More Magic Potion”. “Token of Time”, “From Afar” and “Smoking Ruins”. Taking a break to salute a crowd chanting Ensiferum, guitarist Petri Loondis started “Two of Spades” with “Heathen Horde” next. Still chanting Ensiferum, the crowd jumped to “For those about to Fight for Metal”. Toivenen quieted down the crowd for a tribute to fallen warriors over the world before “Way of the Warrior” played. “Burning Leaves”, “In My Sword I Trust”, “Ahti” and “Victory Song” closed the set with “Hero in a Dream” and “Lai lai Hai” playing out an encore that finished right at midnight.
Supporting act Kalmah could have been mistaken for the headlining band with the reaction they received. Playing what amounted to almost an hour-long set, they played their songs from their 8 album history since 1998. Opening with “Swamphell”, the crowd was pumped. “The Evil Kin” and “Moon of the Knights” followed suit. Pausing to give a quick background of the band, lead singer Pekka Kokko clearly didn’t understand that Kalmah needed no introduction here in Montreal. Appreciating the roars of support, he kicked into “They Will Return” before playing the single (and title) of their latest album “Seventh Swamphony”. “Heroes to Us, “The Third, the Magical” and the “Black Waltz” followed before Kokko had to remind the audience that they were the “supporting” act. They crowd roared as Kalmah played their last song of the evening, “Hades” and they chanted for more.
Opening the evening was “Abigail Williams”, a black metal band from Olympia, WA founded by Ken Sorceron. Fresh off the release of their fourth album “Walk Beyond the Dark”, they played a memorable and entrancing performance filled with rapturous bursts of string accompaniments with melancholic tones of shadow and despair. Powerful guitars by Bryon O’Sullivan shifted between slithering rhythms, contemplative grooves and all-out assaults of pure metal riffs. Playing through an eight song playlist, Sorceron proved that he is the heart, soul and mind of Abigail Williams.