ENSIFERUM
Folk Metal • Finland

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Ensiferum is a Viking / Folk Metal band from Helsinki, Finland.

Story of Ensiferum

1995 Markus Toivonen played guitar with some friends in a band called ”Dark Reflections”, which played mainly covers of certain heavy metal bands including Megadeth, Pantera and many others. Later on, Markus felt that the band in which he was playing offered him very little inspiration and wanted to play something different. Markus was hugely inspired by folk music and also found himself fascinated with melodic death metal bands like Amorphis and Dark Tranquillity. Then one day Markus asked the band’s drummer, Kimmo Miettinen, if he wanted to play heroic folk ’death’ metal with him. Kimmo agreed. Next Markus and Kimmo asked their friend Sauli Savolainen, if he wanted to come and play the bass. Fortunately, he said yes. Now they had a band. Only trouble was that the band had no name at the
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EnsiferumEnsiferum
Fontana International 2008
Audio CD$9.72
$15.44 (used)
IronIron
Extra tracks
Fontana International/Fontana 2008
Audio CD$8.16
$7.00 (used)
Victory SongsVictory Songs
Extra tracks
Fontana Universal 2009
Audio CD$8.90
$4.69 (used)
From AfarFrom Afar
Fontana Universal 2009
Audio CD$8.90
$3.99 (used)
Unsung HeroesUnsung Heroes
Limited Edition
INGROOVES 2012
Audio CD$12.29
$12.75 (used)
DragonheadsDragonheads
Fontana Universal 2006
Audio CD$6.21
$2.00 (used)
Ensiferum: 10th Anniversary LiveEnsiferum: 10th Anniversary Live
Multiple Formats · Anamorphic · Import
Universal Music 2006
DVD$19.61
$24.20 (used)
Ensiferum BackpatchEnsiferum Backpatch
Audio CD$12.99
From Afar by Ensiferum [Music CD]From Afar by Ensiferum [Music CD]
Fontana Universal
Audio CD$29.63
One More Magic PotionOne More Magic Potion
Single · Import
Spinefarm 2007
Audio CD$53.23
$53.23 (used)
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ENSIFERUM Discography

ENSIFERUM albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 4.42 | 18 ratings
Ensiferum
Folk Metal 2001
.. Album Cover 3.74 | 15 ratings
Iron
Folk Metal 2004
.. Album Cover 4.42 | 10 ratings
Victory Songs
Folk Metal 2007
.. Album Cover 4.20 | 10 ratings
From Afar
Folk Metal 2009
.. Album Cover 4.40 | 10 ratings
Unsung Heroes
Folk Metal 2012

ENSIFERUM EPs & splits

.. Album Cover 3.00 | 2 ratings
Dragonheads
Folk Metal 2006

ENSIFERUM live albums

ENSIFERUM demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

ENSIFERUM boxset & compilations

.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
1997-1999
Folk Metal 2005

ENSIFERUM singles (2)

.. Album Cover
3.00 | 1 ratings
Tale of Revenge
Folk Metal 2004
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
One More Magic Potion
Folk Metal 2007

ENSIFERUM movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
10th Anniversary Live
Folk Metal 2006

ENSIFERUM Reviews

ENSIFERUM Iron

Album · 2004 · Folk Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
Raising their Viking swords to save another day ENSIFERUM delivers and displays their thrash metal leanings and power metal fantasies and rolls out another folk-tinged metal assault on their 2nd album IRON. While the debut album focused more on making thrashy metal powerhouses out of folk musical chord progressions and focused more on the heaviness, IRON has a lighter feel overall and focuses more on the folk side of their musical equation. From the pure folk (perhaps overlong) instrumental opener “Ferrum Aeternum” we get the full side of the melodic aspects of ENSIFERUM. The second track kicks into the metal but even then doesn't lean toward the thrashiness of the debut. The harder rip roarin' tracks don't really begin until track eight “Slayer Of Light” where there are three tracks of melodic folk assault that can actually complete with the debut.

What I love about ENSIFERUM is you really get all kinds of metal rolled into one with traditional folk music as well. The folk is symphonic and professionally done complete with bouzouki, mandolin, saz, dulcimer, sax, kantele and female vocals. On the metal side we get traditional metal, thrash, death growls and some smokin' solos that add an extra layer of intensity. This is the last album to feature Jari Mäenpää on vocals and guitars because he was more dedicated to the Wintersun projects and was booted from the band so he could dedicate his full attention. While I loved the debut album this one was initially a bit of a disappointment. I thought it was a little weak in comparison because it isn't as heavy throughout its entirety, but after many listens I have grown to really like the subtleties of this offering. True, it could have been paced a little better with some of the tracks moved around but on the whole I find myself liking this album quite a bit despite it not topping the debut in any given way.

ENSIFERUM Ensiferum

Album · 2001 · Folk Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
I first heard ENSIFERUM on an internet radio station when they played the folk metal classic “Treacherous Gods.” This band has the honor of introducing me to the fact that there was a whole subgenre called folk metal. I can't think of a more epic and folky representation of the genre than ENSIFERUM which is Latin for “sword bearing.” I still wonder if folk metal deserves to be a separate subgenre since folk instrumentation is a fairly common embellishment in different styles of metal ranging from Spinal Tap to Neurosis to lots of power metal acts such as Rhapsody, but it has been established as a legit subgenre and ENSIFERUM is one of my favorite albums from that category.

The music is as most folk metal tends to be, that is a form of traditional metal attributes such as galloping riffs, soaring solos and a wider range in the vocal styles all mixed with the scales of traditional European folk music. ENSIFERUM pulls it off well keeping a nice melodic yet energetic pace throughout the album. Songs tend to start with acoustic intros that blast into full fledged metallic fury delivering exciting and epic sagas of times when heoric battles ensued in the primeval forests of days gone by.

ENSIFERUM was founded way back in 1995 by Markus Toivonen on guitar, Sauli Savolainen on bass and Kimmo Miettinen handling drum duties but by the time they finally recorded this album they recruited Jari Mäenpää as the vocalist and secondary guitarist who has the perfect raspy voice that suits this music quite well. The album has a very lush sound because we get guest musicians adding keyboards, several vocal parts and the addition of the traditional Finnish instrument the kantele which is a zither type instrument. If you want to start your folk metal journey with an album that delivers on an epic scale then this debut album by ENSIFERUM won't disappoint.

ENSIFERUM Unsung Heroes

Album · 2012 · Folk Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
adg211288
Unsung Heroes is the fifth full-length album by Finnish folk metal act Ensiferum. The album was released in 2012 as both a regular edition with ten tracks and a limited edition with a DVD containing a making of feature and studio diaries as well as a bonus track cover of Gipsy Kings’ Bamboleo on the CD. As anyone in the know as far as metal goes will already know Ensiferum are one of the most prominent acts within the folk metal genre.

The music of Unsung Heroes is a very much varied approach to creating folk metal. As a style that can by definition draw its metal side from just about any other metal genre going, most bands seem content to pick a ‘base’ and stick to it until they want to do some lighter stuff to let their folk sides shine through. That isn’t really the case with Unsung Heroes, an album which draws on many fronts including melodic death metal, power metal, symphonic metal and in the epic seventeen minute closer, Passion, Proof, Power, progressive metal. The album is very easily one of the most varied folk metal albums I’ve encountered.

The thing is, while having variety is all well and good, and definitely welcome, it’s not actually the first thing I look for in a folk metal release in order to see if it works. What I look for is authenticity, specifically in the folk parts. Folk metal acts that are all about drinking songs or similar can be entertaining music, especially if they have comedic value, but for me to regard a release as a masterpiece of the genre, the band (usually at least) needs that authenticity. Ensiferum are not one of the folk metal acts that rely on excessive traditional instrumentation however, which for me does put the band at a something of a disadvantage on the authenticity front, however in Unsung Heroes they’ve made a solid and convincing release using folk influence mainly within their metal instrumentation. It works because it does not sound silly or cheesy, and the band makes sure they don’t leave their metal elements lacking.

Can it be considered a masterpiece though? No, honestly it can’t because it just doesn’t do enough within its approximately one hour duration to justify such an accolade. The epic Passion, Proof, Power right at the end of the album may be taking up a sizeable chuck of that running time but at the end of the day it is just one song, and while it alone has brought me to regard Unsung Heroes a bit more than I think I would have done without it the Finn’s sadly produce a classic case of a double-edge sword in the song, since it’s the best and most epic thing on the entire album that brings together all the influences heard up until that point I’m left feeling that the rest of the songs, as good as they are, just lead up to the album’s crowning achievement. They are good songs, don’t take my views for what they aren’t, but for me they don’t really realise the same level of quality on a smaller scale as Ensiferum were able to do with a seventeen minute epic. The variety within their metal influences does make up for it a fair bit however, keeping the album interesting throughout despite my other feelings towards it. I’m most fond of Burning Leaves and the power metal fuelled Retribution Shall Be Mine out of the shorter songs.

If you’ve liked what the band has released previously then I don’t see how Unsung Heroes could leave one with any feelings of disappointment. I would rank it a stronger album than the prior From Afar (2009). The band shows skill at their instruments and I especially like the way they use acoustics to create folk melody in Celestial Bond and Star Queen (Celestial Bond Part II). If there’s a criticism to be levelled at the band’s delivery then it would have to be Petri Lindroos’ harsh vocals, which came across as rather weak compared to the clean vocals used on the album to me. Still, a great album tier rating is undoubtedly deserved for Unsung Heroes and even with all the issues I highlighted in this review it was very nearly up into the exceptional levels.

8.3/10

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven (http://metaltube.freeforums.org) on 28/08/12)

ENSIFERUM Iron

Album · 2004 · Folk Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Conor Fynes
'Iron' - Ensiferum (6/10)

Hailed by the band's fans as well as many folk metal heavyweights as a classic of the genre, Ensiferum's 'Iron' is now by many standards; a classic album. Although some have gone on to prefer the Wintersun project that band frontman Jari Maenpaa would do after leaving this band, there is no doubt that Ensiferum have left a great mark on folk, or pagan, or viking, or whatever-you-want-to-call-it metal with this album. Basing their act around their historic culture, as well as broader subjects concerning things like fighting, folklore, nature, and fighting, it is clear that this Finnish act have carved out a very particular niche for themselves,and their speed-oriented brand of folk metal is also established very firmly here. While Ensiferum clearly knows what they want to do here, and do it well at that, the result still feels like an album that- while barrels of good fun- could have been a great deal better, given a little more moderation.

Keep in mind that this is a relative outsider to the world of pagan metal speaking, but there is no doubt that Ensiferum is a band that aims to go over-the-top with virtually every aspect of their sound. Whether its the speedy rhythms, bombastic folk interludes, or belted vocals, everything about Ensiferum exudes this vibe of overindulgence. For the most part, this works well and is alot of fun. Going into a pagan metal album, one knows quite well what to expect, and Ensiferum does deliver that much; a collection of upbeat, epic-sounding metal tracks with a handful of folky segments to provide a great soundtrack to some beer-fueled pagan party out in the wilderness somewhere. The metal parts have some good energy to them, and the folk parts often feel like more than a gimmick; as is especially evidenced in the first track on the album, they are not afraid to let the folk elements take hold for a little longer than your average folk metal band's necessary interlude. This is something I can respect Ensiferum for.

While Ensiferum has got some great things going on for them, it feels to me like the way they are organized and put together could still use alot of work. While we have this over-the-top sound and upbeat folk, that is really all there is to 'Iron', no middle ground, no substantial moments of build-up, nothing but this small handful of different sounds. It is like driving a car that will only allow you to rocket ahead, or inch along. While Ensiferum do get the 'epic' vibe across that I am so sure they were aiming for, the total lack of moderation and dynamic in their sound makes the wild sound feel pretty tame after its been rocketing along for around forty minutes. When I first listened to the album, I was even thinking that the version I was hearing could have been sped up; at times, things sounded like Ensiferum were content to trade off musicality for speed, when I feel some of these tracks could have benefited by being toned down a notch, at least here and there.

'Iron' is a good album for folk metal, and it is very indicative of legions of bands who opt to play this upbeat and energetic style of music. While I do like what Ensiferum have done here, my thoughts about their music here are more mixed than anything, and despite the enjoyment that's been had here, I can't be but a little disappointed, when a few things could have been improved upon to make for a much more powerful experience.

ENSIFERUM Ensiferum

Album · 2001 · Folk Metal
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bartosso
The music from the Viking's heart

I'll put it bluntly - I love this album! Everything is on board of this Viking ship - captivating melodies, fantastic riffing, great musicianship and, most of all, metal. Every time I need something melodic and accessible yet still ambitious, I reach for ENSIFERUM.

This album is like well told Nordic legend - fantastic melodic intro engrosses the listener in a fabulous world of almost forgotten events and heroes (with beards and axes for sure). The effect is attained with blackened growls, great Viking choirs and catchy riffs with folk feel about them. The guitarists draw from heavy metal and black metal traditions to create absolutely flawless guitar themes. Every song flows like the Norwegian current - there is no place for boredom, the music simply abound with consistent, atmospheric ideas. Although normally I would give 3 stars to that kind of record - good melodies and execution are not enough to describe an album as excellent - in this case it's neither atmosphere nor concept nor technical prowess which make up the core of this release. It's the heart. Those Finns know how to use it.

Why not 5 stars then? Well, there are two reasons: 1. not all of the songs are equally appealing. I don't mean that they're worse in term of structure/composition. It's just that some songs (e.g. "Eternal Wait", "Battle Song") leave me cold. They're nice folky tunes, I enjoy them, but nothing more. 2. That is highly enjoyable record, really. But it lacks in true depth which usually induce me to give the highest recommendation. I believe that with such a talent these guys would be able to create a breathtaking masterpiece. But they just want to play folk metal. And all credit to them for that.

ENSIFERUM is a must-have for all fans of heavy folk metal with beautiful, fabulous melodies. Honestly, I've never heard anything better in this sub-genre. It's a very, very good record, with a few masterpiece attributes, but it's definitely not a masterpiece. Well, in the Viking metal - yes it is. In the whole metal - no. Anyway, highly recommended!

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