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A dynamic Finnish death/power/folk-metal group who delve into Viking lore for lyrical inspiration, Ensiferum (a derivation of the Latin word for "sword-bearing") emerged in the late '90s and issued their eponymous debut album in 2001. With their keen melodic sense, diverse instrumentation, and fiery dual (clean/harsh) vocal attack, the band quickly rose to the fore of the burgeoning Viking metal scene alongside contemporaries like Finntroll, Korpiklaani, Tyr, and Turisas with acclaimed efforts like Victory Songs (2007), Unsung Heroes (2012), and Two Paths (2017). Founded in 1995 by guitarist Markus Toivonen, who has remained the group's sole constant member over the years, Ensiferum had to continually coexist with various simultaneous metal projects undertaken by its members while getting up to speed. The band worked up a number of demo tapes before finally attracting the attention of Finland's powerhouse metal label Spinefarm, which released their eponymous debut in 2001. Their sophomore effort Iron followed in 2004, with both albums featuring vocalist Jari Mäenpää, bassist Jukka-Pekka Miettinen, keyboardist Meiju Enho, drummer Oliver Fokin, and of course, Toivonen. Many of these musicians were active in black/dark metal act Arthemesia at the same time, and Mäenpää subsequently announced his departure to start a new band called Wintersun. More lineup changes occurred before the release of Ensiferum's third LP, Victory Songs, in 2007, with Enho leaving the fold, making way for new keyboard player Emmi Silvennoinen, who made her studio debut on 2009's From Afar. 2012 saw the release of the group's fifth studio long-player, Unsung Heroes, and in 2015 the band issued their Metal Blade debut, One Man Army. Silvennoinen departed in 2016 and was replaced by accordionist Netta Skog, who appeared on 2017's Two Paths, which became their highest-charting LP to date. In early 2020 Pekka Montin took over keyboard duties from Skog, and also provided clean vocals. Thalassic, the band's first conceptual album, arrived later that year.
© James Christopher Monger & Eduardo Rivadavia /TiVo


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