From07 August 2019to24 August 2019



Ensiferum are a metal band hailing from Helsinki, Finland who formed in 1995. The band are known for being one of the most respected folk metal bands in the world, and have released six albums since their debut in 2001.

A band who take their name from the gender neutral Latin term for sword-bearer could only be a heavy metal band, you’ll never get a bunch of clowns sounding like Bastille with a name like that and neither should you. This is because a band with a name like that are always going to be utterly, utterly ridiculous, and you need a band truly unafraid of that for it to be the right kind of ridiculous. All true metal bands are unafraid of ridicule but Ensiferum go one better, and are so damn good that even those completely oblivious to the world of heavy metal can be converted to their cause, even though on paper, folk metal sounds like a difficult genre to truly engage with.

Ensiferum begin with lead guitarist Markus Toivonen, who to this day is the bands sole founding member still in the group. In 1995 Toivonen was a jobbing guitarist in his native Helsinki, and joined a band called Dark Reflections early on in his career. The band was a pretty bog standard thrash covers act, with Megadeth and Pantera tunes making up the majority of their repertoire and after a while, Toivonen grew tired of this. He was a devotee of folk music, and was fascinated by the idea of combining the folk music he was writing with the melodic death metal stylings of Amorphis and Dark Tranquillity.

He decided to take matters into his own hands and form his own band, at first poaching Dark Reflections’ drummer Kimmo Miettinen, and then getting their mutual friend Sauli Savolainen in to play the bass guitar. The name came from a Latin dictionary that Toivonen found lying around Savolainen’s house, and the trio were finally set. The band began rehearsing and writing in January 1996, and found a large chink in their rocking armour right off the bat. None of the band could sing worth a damn. So while the core trio worked on the music together, they put the word out that they were looking for a singer and second guitarist whenever they were outside of rehearsals.

The band eventually settled on Jari Mäenpää to be their frontman impressed as they were by his skills as a guitarist, singer and lyricist. He helped finish most of the first songs the original trio had started writing and played their first concert in December 1996. They should have gone on to great things right there and then, however, life is rarely that simple. You see, all adult Finnish men are conscripted into the army for at least 165 days plus eight weeks of basic training, and in January 1997, Mäenpää received his callout. Fortunately, the band kept writing and recording while he was away, even playing a couple of shows, and by the time Mäenpää came back the band were ready to head straight into the studio, where they recorded their first demo tape.

By 1998 the band went through their first line-up changes, with Miettinen and Savolainen leaving to play in other bands. However, they were soon replaced and a second demo was recorded in January 1999, solidifying the band members and boosting their confidence. However, in November of the same year their third demo cracked it, “Hero In A Dream” went further than anything they’d ever done before, and secured them a record deal with Spinefarm Records. By 2001 their self-titled debut album was released to massive critical acclaim and the band started touring the whole of Europe with their newest member Meiju Enho on keyboards.

Ever since then, Toivonen has led the band through line up troubles, illness and other strife associated with life on the road to become a truly respected act in heavy metal. They’ve toured with everyone from Amon Amarth to Children Of Bodom to the mighty Megadeth and have played the likes of Bloodstock and Wacken among many other metal festivals. They command a cult following the world over and are an absolute must for any self-respecting metal fan around, even if you might not think that folk metal is your bag, take a chance with Ensiferum, you won’t find anyone around who does it better. Highly recommended.

Wednesday 07 August 2019 – Saturday 10 August 2019
Brutal Assault 2019
Pevnov Josefov / Josefov Fortress, Jaroměř, Czech Republic

Thursday 22 August 2019 – Saturday 24 August 2019
Baltic Open Air Festival 2019
Schleswig-Flensburg, Germany

June 17, 2019 in