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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ENSIFERUM Discography

ENSIFERUM albums / top albums

ENSIFERUM Ensiferum album cover 4.08 | 28 ratings
Folk Metal 2001
ENSIFERUM Iron album cover 3.73 | 22 ratings
Folk Metal 2004
ENSIFERUM Victory Songs album cover 3.85 | 18 ratings
Victory Songs
Folk Metal 2007
ENSIFERUM From Afar album cover 3.79 | 16 ratings
From Afar
Folk Metal 2009
ENSIFERUM Unsung Heroes album cover 3.52 | 15 ratings
Unsung Heroes
Folk Metal 2012
ENSIFERUM One Man Army album cover 3.38 | 9 ratings
One Man Army
Folk Metal 2015
ENSIFERUM Two Paths album cover 4.44 | 4 ratings
Two Paths
Folk Metal 2017
ENSIFERUM Thalassic album cover 4.17 | 3 ratings
Folk Metal 2020

ENSIFERUM EPs & splits

ENSIFERUM Dragonheads album cover 3.50 | 4 ratings
Folk Metal 2006

ENSIFERUM live albums

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

ENSIFERUM re-issues & compilations

ENSIFERUM 1997-1999 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Folk Metal 2005
ENSIFERUM Two Decades of Greatest Sword Hits album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Two Decades of Greatest Sword Hits
Folk Metal 2016

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 Victory Songs

Album · 2007 · Folk Metal
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Loving this album!

Sometimes, I don't know whether I am more inclined to listen to classical music and post-rock or prog metal and doom metal. Well, that is where Ensiferum comes in, or folk metal in general; this is one of the better folk metal albums in my collection, so that is all very great!

Another interesting thing about this album, specifically, is that it really helps get my brain working and creative when it is turned off.

3.5 stars because I am not really a folk metal fan in general, but as I said, this is one of the better albums in the genre.


Album · 2017 · Folk Metal
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With some bands, it’s hard for me not to be at least a bit nervous every time they put out a new album, whether it’s being worried they’ll do a misguided experiment that goes horribly wrong or just produce something that sounds so samey it comes across as a pointless retread. Then there are other bands, like Finnish folk metal band Ensiferum, where every time I hear they’re coming out with a new album, I feel nothing but extreme excitement, because every time they release a new album they manage to prove themselves as being the absolute best in their genre, sticking to tried and true elements while managing to add in a little something special each time, so that each album stands out from the pack. While their previous release, One Man Army, came across as a little familiar sounding compared to their past releases, it was still an excellent album with enough standout moments to make me confident they could keep their impressive run going, and now with their seventh full-length release, Two Paths, the band sounds more energized than ever and they’ve produced yet another album that contains all the expected elements, while managing to feel fresh and exciting at the same time.

Ensiferum’s lineup has remained very stable over the past several years, so it was a rare case when keyboardist Emmi Silvennoinen left the band shortly after the release of One Man Army. Her replacement on tour was Netta Skog, who has gone on to officially join the band for Two Paths. Interestingly, Netta plays a digital accordion, which can be used to effectively recreate the kinds of keyboard sounds Emmi was using on the past three albums, while at the same time she can also use it as a normal accordion, which adds extra folk flavor to the music, something the band has done very effectively on this album. In fact, while albums like From Afar and One Man Army were pushing the band pretty far into a symphonic metal direction at times, on this album they have dialed those elements back a bit, and instead the majority of the album is dominated by folk melodies, with the accordion, in particular, being used very effectively to lead the way on many tracks, and there’s also the occasional use of violins and other folk instruments. Obviously, folk elements have always been a large part of Ensiferum’s music, but on this album, I notice them even more so than on their previous few releases, and they add extra flavor and energy to some already impressive music. While the folk elements dominate more than ever, though, there are still some very epic symphonic arrangements on a couple tracks, as well as the expected melodic death metal elements, which while again not as dominant as on some albums, are still very much present and are used as well as ever. The majority of the album is very fast paced and energetic, with most of the songs being written in such a way as to be extremely catchy and addictive, so fans hoping for some of the more complex and lengthy tracks found on the past few albums may be disappointed, as nothing here even approaches 5 and a half minutes. Instead, the songs are all simple, but extremely catchy and fun, which I personally don’t mind as a change of pace, since it allows the album to flow beautifully from one highlight to another, and it’s certainly an easy album to listen to several times in a row.

The band has always been known to use various different vocal deliveries on their albums, and Two Paths is certainly no exception to this rule. As always, harsh vocals are an important part of the music, and Petri Lindroos sounds as epic and powerful with his growls as ever. Also, as usual, the clean male vocals from bassist Sami Hinkka and guitarist Markus Toivonen are quite varied, sometimes even sounding a bit different from past albums, as they occasionally sound a bit more wild than usual, which fits in well on some of the more folk flavored tracks. Gang vocals and choirs are also used on many tracks, as always, and are as epic as ever, adding extra flavor to the music, and helping to make some already awesome choruses even better. Lastly, the band has used various different female vocalists throughout their past few albums, and this continues on this album. I’m not sure if the female vocals here are done by a guest or by Netta Skog, but either way they’re very impressive, sounding just a bit wild but also very pleasant and they add even more of a folk flavor to the music, whenever they appear, which mostly happens in short bursts as supporting vocals, but they do show up as lead vocals a couple times and are quite nice.

Songwriting is an area where Ensiferum has always excelled, so it’s no surprise that Two Paths is a consistently amazing album from start to finish, with none of the songs being anywhere near less than perfect. The album begins with an intro, which makes nice use of folk melodies and symphonic arrangements, while also having nice female vocals early on before we get the main melody that we’ll be hearing a couple more times on the album. In fact, while this intro track is very heroic and epic sounding, there’s also an outro track which feels like the reverse, as it uses the same main melody but it’s slowed down and sounds a lot sadder, which serves as a nice contrast. But those aren’t the only two times that melody appears, as it’s actually taken straight from the lead single and proper opener “For Those About to Fight for Metal”. In case anyone is like me and instantly thinks of AC/DC when seeing that name, it actually does feel like an intentional reference, as the chorus has a line that certainly reminds me of a famous track from that band and even the extended guitar intro is a little bit similar. Once the song gets going, though, it’s pure Ensiferum through and through, moving at a very high tempo throughout, with some explosive riffs, epic choirs, symphonic arrangements, folk melodies and an extremely epic chorus, dominated by choir vocals. It basically feels like a full representation of their sound and it definitely gives listeners an idea of what to expect, from the super energetic, more straightforward songwriting found throughout the album. It also has an awesome instrumental section in the middle where the guitars lead the way for a while, and then suddenly Netta takes over with her accordion and it gets really epic from there. Definitely an exciting opening track, but surprisingly not even one of my favorites on the album, as awesome as it is.

Next is “Way of the Warrior”, another explosive, fast paced track with an awesome chorus. This track uses more traditional keyboard sounds, but the actual melodies definitely have a folk feel to them, and it actually reminds me a little bit of “One Magic Potion” from Victory Songs, which was always a favorite of mine. In fact, while this album definitely has elements of all the band’s albums with Petri Lindroos, if I were to compare it most to one album in particular, I’d go with Victory Songs, due to the heavy focus on folk elements and also due to some of the gang vocal arrangements sounding quite similar to songs from that album. The title track follows and is the most folk infused of the first few tracks, with the accordion playing a very prominent role throughout and sounding quite impressive, and I also hear some violins during the verses, which adds extra flavor. Meanwhile, we get some very wild clean vocals throughout the track, especially during the chorus, and while it took a couple listens for me to get used to how they sound, I now think they fit the track very well, and it’s definitely a catchy and very fun track, which actually feels very fresh, as while it is fast paced, it isn’t overly heavy and has a more traditional folk feel to it at times. After that is a track which comes from the opposite spectrum, that being the super explosive “King of Storms”, a very heavy, super bombastic track which very much feels like it would have fit perfectly on From Afar or One Man Army. It’s the kind of epic, symphonic flavored melodic death metal that dominated those two albums, and on this track, it’s pulled off as effectively as ever, with some explosive verses, insanely epic symphonic arrangements and a huge chorus as always. It’s also one of the tracks where Petri most gets to dominate with his harsh vocals, though the very deep clean vocals during the chorus are also impressive.

And of course, the track right after that has to once again serve as a contrast to the track preceding it, as “Feast of Valkyries” is a more laid back, very folk infused track. Right from the start, the accordion dominates on this track, and it sounds very nice. While it’s still a fairly upbeat track musically, it isn’t as fast or as heavy as most other tracks on the album, instead of being more relaxed and very melodic. During the verses, we get some rather unique sounding female vocals, which lead the way through the track, before giving way to some epic gang vocals during the insanely epic and catchy chorus, which again brings back fond memories of Victory Songs. What we get next is a slight surprise, as “Don’t You Say” has more of a folk rock feel to it, being very upbeat but rather light and not at all heavy compared to most songs on the album. In fact, everything from the more simplistic drum patterns to the super catchy chorus, makes it feel like a more accessible, almost radio friendly track by Ensiferum standards. The track has no harsh vocals and is sung almost entirely by one singer, who does an excellent job and his voice fits the folk flavor of the track perfectly (the one exception is a brief use of female vocals as support right near the end.) I can see some fans being disappointed by this track, but I personally love it, as it serves as a nice change of pace from some of the heavier songs and the folk melodies are beautiful, especially the use of a violin throughout, while the chorus is an absolutely killer and super addictive. In fact, it’s actually one of my favorite songs on the album, even if it is by far the least metal.

Heading towards the end, “I Shall Never Kneel” is another standout, which again has strong folk elements throughout, though it’s a heavier track, with varied tempos throughout. Its main riff is fast paced, and there are some explosive moments throughout, but the verses and chorus are more mid paced, and there’s also a very beautiful slower section in the middle where the keyboards take over and we get some nice female vocals. On the whole, it’s a very fun track and uses the full range of vocals fans can expect from the band, all in one track, which is cool. After that we get another very folk flavored track in “God is Dead”, which actually has my favorite use of the accordion on the entire album, as the lead melody is absolutely beautiful and adds a ton of folk flavor to the music, while the track overall is fast paced and is simply a wild, good time, with an insanely epic chorus, wild but awesome sounding clean vocals, and it’s simply one of the most wildly fun and addictive tracks I’ve heard all year, even if I’m not overly fond of the lyrics. This track is one case where the music and songwriting are simply so awesome, it wins out over the lyrics. Lastly, “Hail to the Victor” is the slowest track on the album, leading off with a nice guitar melody, before settling down and turning into a slow but epic melodic death metal track with strong symphonic elements, It has an amazing chorus, where clean vocals show up, but while the first half is very good, the track gets much better around halfway through, as the guitar tone suddenly changes, becoming more epic, and we get some huge symphonic arrangements, in a section that very much reminds me of the album Unsung Heroes and especially the track “Burning Leaves”, except dialed up to an 11. From there, we get some incredibly epic choir vocals, and the track ends in epic fashion. While that is the last proper song on the album, followed by the outro I mentioned earlier, the band also elected to provide alternate versions of the tracks “Don’t You Say” and “God is Dead”, with these versions featuring harsh vocals throughout. While some folks may prefer one version over the other, I personally think both songs work equally well with either clean or harsh vocal, as both are simply so incredibly fun and well written, they’ll work for me in either form, so having these alternate versions is certainly a nice treat, and I always listen to both versions of each track every time I play the album.

At this point, I never expect anything less than greatness from Ensiferum, and I’m never disappointed. Two Paths is once again no exception, as it’s yet another masterful album that has all the elements fans of the band have come to expect, while also having stronger folk elements than the band has had in a long time, as well as being one of their most energetic albums ever. It’s certainly yet another highlight in their impressive career and is easily my favorite folk metal album since at the very least Unsung Heroes, possibly even eclipsing that and going back to From Afar, which stands as my favorite from the band. Either way, though, I highly recommend it to all fans of folk, symphonic and melodic death metal, as it’s certainly a must hear, and one of my top three albums of 2017 so far.

originally written for myglobalmind.com: https://myglobalmind.com/2017/09/02/ensiferum-two-paths-review/


Album · 2015 · Folk Metal
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During my more experimental phase of trying to further evolve and refine my tastes in various types of metal, I would occasionally struggle with certain genres, until I found that one band that would eventually convince me to dig deeper. For anything relating to folk metal, that band was Ensiferum. As soon as I heard their album From Afar I was instantly hooked, and since then they have become not only my favorite band in their genre (as well as the band that opened the door for me discovering such excellent bands as Turisas, Equilibrium and Eluveitie) but probably one of a handful or so of my absolute favorite bands at this point. Some fans were disappointed with their more slowed down and melodic previous release Unsung Heroes, but I found it to be just as incredible as their previous two. With their upcoming sixth full length release One Man Army, they have kept their streak alive, with yet another brilliant album that both builds on their previous work, and throws in some big surprises on a couple tracks.

In case it wasn't made obvious in the opening paragraph, I’m very much in the minority when it comes to most Ensiferum fans, in that while I enjoyed their two releases with Wintersun frontman Jari Mäenpää, I find they really came into their own as soon as Petri Lindroos joined. Every album they've done starting with Victory Songs has been fantastic in its own way, with each release maintaining certain key elements while moving their sound into new and exciting directions. By comparison, One Man Army is their first one in a while that doesn't feel like a huge step forward. Instead, it largely feels like a spiritual successor to From Afar and it’s epic, speedy melodic death power metal sound, once again infused with tons of symphonic and folk elements, while occasionally mixing some of the slower sections that Unsung Heroes had, and introducing a few new tricks here and there. The opening track “Axe of Judgement” in particular feels like the closest they've come to being a symphonic power metal band, complete with an excellent section in the middle where the choir vocals and orchestras take over. The only thing separating them from having a symphonic power metal tag on that song is the fact that it still heavily features Petri’s excellent growls. Fans of From Afar should love that one as well as the equally awesome title track, which is pretty much a pure melodic death metal song, only sparingly using symphonic and folk elements.

As with any Ensiferum album, there’s a great range of different vocal styles on One Man Army. Obviously, the bulk of the load is carried by Petri Lindroos, who sounds as powerful and energetic as ever. In fact, on songs like “Cry for the Earth Bounds” and the later parts of “Descendant, Defiance, Domination”, he shows off a higher end to his growls than normal, and these vocals sound especially strong and epic. I almost wish he’d use that voice more often, it sounds that good. Clean male vocals are handled by guitarist Markus Toivonen and bassist Sami Hinkka. As always, the clean vocals sound great and help enhance the melodies, most notably on “Warrior Without a War”, which is another epic speedy track. Elsewhere, the choir vocals and various forms of gang vocals are still used frequently and sound as awesome as ever. Like with Unsung Heroes, a couple songs also feature clean female vocals and they sound great.

While most of the album feels closer to From Afar, and perhaps even Victory Songs at times, the song “Heathen Horde” is very similar to the title track of “Unsung Heroes”, in that it’s more of a mid tempo track where the folk melodies dominate, and the gang vocals during the chorus are quite epic. Other songs show their symphonic elements coming through even more strongly than they did on From Afar, most notably on “Cry for the Earthbounds”, where the operatic choirs sound especially epic. Later on in the song we have one of two instances on the album where a solo female voice is heard, as well as well as one late section in the song where Petri showcases those higher growls I mentioned earlier. On the whole, that track is a clear hi-light.

Of course, the biggest connection to From Afar comes from the tracks “My Ancestors’ Blood” and “Descendants, Defiance, Domination” which join together to make up a new chapter in the “Heathen Throne” saga. These tracks really do feel like one 16 minute epic (the first track even ends with some ambient keyboards which continue into the start of the second track) and once again Ensiferum has delivered spectacularly on that front. They do sound somewhat similar to the first two parts, with the first track being a bit more mid tempo and featuring a catchy chorus, while the second track is largely instrumental, at least in the first half, and features several tempo changes. Near the end Petri delivers more of his epic higher growls, but perhaps the most surprising thing about the track is the effective use of narration. I generally find narration in music to be very distracting, but in this case it’s used in very quick bursts and helps to push the music along, without ever getting in the way. The first half of the track does an excellent job of setting the tables, while the second half is some of the band’s best work to date.

And then we have the two oddball tracks. First up is “Two of Spades”, which starts off as a fast paced, rather straight-forward and super catchy power/melodeath song, but then in the middle it transforms into what I can only describe as some kind of weird retro dance music or something. I really can’t put it into words, but the music goes really weird for a while, and even the vocals sound a bit cheesy in a fun way, with the lyrics switching to Finnish, I believe. Whatever the heck they were attempting in that song, it worked, because it’s somehow one of the most addictive songs on the album, and it certainly sounds unique. The other surprising track is the closer “Neito Pohjolan”, another track I have a hard time properly describing. It’s a fairly upbeat track, but it’s not at all metal, and it features all female vocals, sung entirely in Finnish. My first reaction was one of utter shock, especially considering how strong a finale the previous two tracks would have made, but once I got over that I found it to be a rather fun and fresh sounding track. They even included an English version as a bonus track on the Digipak release, though this alternate version features a low singing male vocalist, and at least based on the name, the lyrics seem to be entirely different, but the music remains entirely the same. The other bonus tracks are also fun, with the appropriately named “Bonus Song” in particular being really fun and humorous.

While the previous three Ensiferum albums have shown the band constantly evolving, One Man Army feels more like a celebration of everything the band has become, with occasional glimpses into a lighter, more humorous side of the band. Fans of Victory Songs and especially From Afar should be very pleased with this one, while even those who preferred Unsung Heroes should find a lot to like. And of course, I highly recommend it to all fans of melodeath infused folk metal and symphonic metal. Overall this is yet another fantastic album from a band that has proven to be the best in their field time and time again.

(Originally written for myglobalmind: http://myglobalmind.com/2015/02/02/ensiferum-one-man-army-review/)


Album · 2015 · Folk Metal
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One Man Army (2015) is the sixth full-length album by Finnish folk metal act Ensiferum. Ensiferum are probably one of the first few bands that come to a lot of metalheads minds when thinking of folk metal, but personally speaking though I love the genre I've never been more than a casual fan of their music, though I did end up enjoying their last record Unsung Heroes (2012) a fair bit. They're the sort of band I've been of the opinion that you can always rely on to get the job done, though they always will do it in their own way without really pushing the boat out. Amon Amarth are another such band.

The same is true regarding the sound of One Man Army, only this time it just all seems to fall flat on its face for me. I guess if you're a bigger fan of Ensiferum than I am then One Man Army is serving up exactly what the doctor ordered; folk/symphonic metal with a Viking aesthetic with mostly screamed vocals. But to me the album feels and sounds only passable at best. It's exactly what I was expecting in terms of direction but I know this band can do better. The album rarely manages to get my head nodding, blood boiling or even to put a smile on my face in folk metal style silliness during the course of its eleven tracks. It has its moments that remind me of why I took interest in the band in the first place, I quite like the album's title track for instance and Descendants, Defiance, Domination is also worth its own mention. The parts of the album which added some female vocals to the mix were nice too but for the most part One Man Army just passes me by without doing too much to make me sit up and take interest, which means it's neither overly good nor does anything excessively bad either. It's just there, with Ensiferum doing what Ensiferum do.

And perhaps that's the bigger problem with this one: it just seems to be Ensiferum by numbers and maybe that's just not enough for a new Ensiferum album to be even a little bit interesting to me, the casual follower, at this point having heard and enjoyed their last few albums to different degrees.

Or then again, maybe not. To me One Man Army's biggest problem is that while you will hear all of the folk, symphonic, power and melodic death metal elements here that make up the Ensiferum sound the mix of styles just doesn't seem to be utilised as well as on Unsung Heroes, which back in 2012 I described as a "varied approach to creating folk metal". I hear the different elements again sure, minus anything much I'd call progressive which is a description I applied to some of the last album, but the details don't come through so good to my ears and even when I do hear something a bit different out of the album it doesn't seem too much of a far cry from the norm. I do think that fans of Ensiferum will still like this album a fair amount though so far that reason most of all I'm going to settle on 3 stars for my rating but I'll personally be returning to Unsung Heroes next time I feel the need for some Ensiferum.


Album · 2004 · Folk Metal
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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.

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