The Skyway Theatre welcomed the “Path To Glory Tour” to Minneapolis. Performing were Ensiferum, Septicflesh, and Arsis. I have heard the names before but the night proved to be my initiation into each of these bands.
Arsis hails from Virginia Beach, Virginia. They dropped the album ‘Visitant’ in 2018 via Nuclear Blast Records. Opening the night with “Tricking The Gods,” the quartet was off and running. James Malone was on lead vocals and guitar, Brandon Ellis (guitar), Noah Martin (bass) and Shawn Priest on drums. Although they sit in the death metal genre, I was drawn in by some the melodic passages that were intertwined in the chaos. The energy of the band flowed through Martin. He was all over the place and Ellis proved his shredding abilities throughout the set. They ripped through songs that included “We Are Nightmare” and “Hell Sworn”. It was really cool when Malone kicked into the iconic riff of Scorpions “Rock You Like A Hurricane” and the band ran with it. Ellis nailed the intro solo section to perfection as well. It was short lived as they blasted back into their stuff, but a fun moment. I thought Arsis sounded great and they got a tremendous response from the crowd.
Septicflesh, the symphonic death metal band from Athens, Greece, took the stage next. The orchestration that led them to the stage heightened my anticipation to see these guys. Opening with “Portrait Of A Headless Man” and then “The Vampire From Nazareth”, the table was set for a crushing performance. The band dropped ‘Codex Omega’ in 2017 on Nuclear Blast Records and it was well represented with the opening song, “Martyr,” “Enemy Of Truth,” and “Dark Art.” Septicflesh is made up of Seth Siro Anton (bass & vocals), Christos Antoniou (guitars), Sotiris Anunnaki V. (guitars), and Kerim “Krimh” Lechner on drums. Sonically they threw a lot at you. They blended the brutality of death metal with a powering symphonic sound to forge a soaring wall of sound that was both epic and bruising. Septicflesh lets the music and destructive vibe provide the energy and thrust of the show. Anton greeted the crowd and introduced the songs, but other than that, it was all business on the stage. It was an enjoyable set and I can see why this band has had the longevity its enjoyed.
Ensiferum would close out the show. The band are native to Helsinki, Finland and from everything I read, they encompass the folk metal genre. In 2017 they released the album ‘Two Paths’ on Metal Blade Records and the backdrop displayed that album cover. The band took the stage and as soon as guitarist Markus Toivonen started to play the opening lick of “For Those About To Fight For Metal,” the crowd was fully engaged. Rounding out the line-up was Petri Lindroos (vocals, guitars), Sami Hinkka (bass, vocals), and Janne Parviainen on drums.
I’m not sure what I expected to see and hear from Ensiferum but I was completely taken by surprise. The music packed a bigger punch and was more aggressive than I anticipated. The snarling vocals from Lindroos had an intense sound and that caught me off guard; I had assumed they would feature clean vocals. The set contained “Two Paths,” “Heathen Horde,” “Twilight Tavern,” and “Lai Lai Hei.” The elements of the folk genre and traditional symphonic metal trappings certainly could be heard but there were moments of traditional heavy metal and thrash blended into the bands sound. I was quite impressed with what I heard.
The biggest take away was the crowd. People became participants in the show. Everybody was singing the choruses, I mean everybody, and it was like the band had a backing choir. When I think of mosh pits, I’m thinking a Lamb of God or a Slayer show, but the amount of circle pits that erupted and the intensity of them would have made any metal head proud. There were rows of people with arms over each other shoulders banging heads in unison. That passion that the audience showed for Ensiferum spoke volumes to what the band has accomplished. Some of my favorites from the night were “Way Of The Warrior,” “Two Of Spades,” and the closer “Iron.” Just as Arsis did earlier in the night, Ensiferum reached back to an 80’s classic and did a rendition of Guns N Roses “Sweet Child O’ Mine”, up through the first chorus, to close the night out.
This tour package was really entertaining. Three bands that have different approaches and sounds gave fans an opportunity to explore something that perhaps they wouldn’t have gone to see otherwise. The performances were great and I’ll be checking out albums from each band. This was a great way to kick off 2019 concert schedule and worth checking out if it comes to your city.