Local Wire

Ensiferum @ The Clubhouse Music Venue

At its best, metal music is always ridiculous. To describe Ensiferum as ridiculous would be like describing Michael Scott in the seventh season of The Office as "kind of annoying." Their name means "sword-bearer" in Latin, they play symphonic speed-metal, wear kilts, pose with swords in their publicity shots, sing about mythic heroes, and generally do other things that would not be out of place at a Renaissance Festival. This is music for history geeks, mythology buffs, and guys with weird, gnarly chin beards. "Ridiculous" barely scratches the paunchy, black-shirted, and sweat-panted surface. I shudder to imagine anyone taking this too seriously, but you know, I love the idea of Ensiferum, and I love that they make music for the people they make it for, because that's the other qualifier for the best metal music possible: It's made for outcasts, people who don't care about the norm, and who will happily strap on a kilt, toss up devil horns, and get down to symphonic metal played at galloping speed while imagining themselves roaring into battle to defeat a mythic enemy, or at least work up the courage to tell Mom they are "moving out, for real!"

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.