Dec 112010

There will be running and galloping, the drawing of swords, a rain of arrows. There will be battle axes and torches at night, the cleaving of bone, the wailing of women. There will be longboats on the rivers, blood will be spilled, heroes will be made. There will be kilts and animal skins and war paint. There will be victory songs and anthems to the ancestors. And they will all fucking rock.

Yesterday our installment in this series highlighted two bands that had varying degrees of folk-metal influence in their sound. Today, we’re wading deeper into Finnish folk-metal waters — but not just any kind of folk metal. It’s folk metal with lots of fucking swords.


Ensiferum is the Latin word for “sword-bearer”. The band was founded in 1995, and since their formation, Ensiferum have released four full-length albums, one EP, one compilation, three singles, and three demo albums. We’re not familiar with the full discography, but we know and like the last two albums — Victory Songs (2007) and From Afar (2009). We also got the chance to see them play in Seattle, and they’re even better live than on disc — they know how to whip a crowd into a frenzied, frothing mass of motion.

Ensiferum take the speedy, flashy mix of keyboard- and guitar-driven Finnish melodeath popularized by Children of Bodom and color it with folkish melodies and lyrical themes that speak of legends and myths and heroes with swords. They feature a mix of harsh and clean vocals, epic Viking chants, and fast-as-shit riffing and rhythms.  (more after the jump, including a shitload of music and some exciting tour news . . .)

The two Ensiferum albums we know include a whole bunch of catchy, romping tunes that make us want to run through the woods with blades, looking for a worthy foe to disembowel. Picking samples from those albums was tough, because there are so many good ones. But in the end, we picked two.

The first is for the song “Ahti” from the album Victory Songs:

The second video we’ve got for you is for the song “Twilight Tavern” from Far Away. It includes shots of the band setting up, tuning up, and letting it all hang out in a live performance. It will kick your ass all the up between your shoulder blades:

Next year, Ensiferum will be touring the U.S. and Canada with Finntroll, Rotten Sound, and Barren Earth in the second installment of THE FINNISH METAL TOUR — and that tour will be in Seattle on February 12. Guess who will be there? For all the dates and places, go here.

And then after that, Ensiferum will be supporting Children of Bodom on a world tour that also includes Amon Amarth on selected stops. We’ve got the initial line-up of European dates at the end of this post. We assume there will eventually be a NorthAm segment for this tour. Get stoked.


Don’t put your swords and axes down just yet, because Turisas is coming your way next. Battle metal anyone?

Turisas is another Finnish metal band with heavy folk influences that feature the accordion and violin in their music. They’ve released two albums to date, 2004’s Battle Metal and 2007’s The Varangian Way (the Varangians being Vikings who invaded lands to the south and east of Scandinavia, including the Ukraine and Russia).

The music is a mix of folk-, viking-, and power metal, with mostly clean singing. Where Ensiferum dons kilts for their stage performances, Turisas strap on leather and animal skins, smear war paint over their faces, and hit the stage looking like they’ve just bathed in the blood of their enemies. And that “Battle Metal” title has become something of a metal genre label in some quarters.

Turisas has a new album in the works. To be entitled Stand Up and Fight, it’s scheduled for release by Century Media on January 31, 2011, in Europe and on February 8 in North America. Beginning in late January, they’ll be touring North America with Cradle of Filth, Nachtmystium, and Daniel Lioneye. Now if that isn’t a bizarre collection of bands on a single bill, we don’t know what is. Can’t wait to see what those crowds look like. And yes, we will get to see that for ourselves, because this tour is stopping in Seattle!  For all the dates and places, go here.

We’ve got three Turisas music videos for you. The first two are high-quality vidz of live performances, featuring one song each from the band’s two albums. Here’s the first, the title track from Battle Metal:

The next video features a song from the more recent album, The Varangian Way. It’s a live performance of “To Holmgard and Beyond”:

One more video. It’s for another song from The Varangian Way, called “Rasputin”. We nearly didn’t include this video, because it’s so ridiculous. The word “epic” just flies right out the window. Certainly a change of scene for these feral warriors. Still, the song is fun.


And now, here are the dates for the first leg of that COB world tour that includes Ensiferum and, on select dates, Amon Amarth:

The Ugly World Tour 2011
European headlining tour

Support: Ensiferum
Opener: Machinae Supremacy
* = Additional support: Amon Amarth

March 19 – Teatria, Oulu (FIN)
March 20 – Pakkahuone, Tampere (FIN)
March 22 – Ice Hall, Helsinki (FIN)
March 24 – Arenan, Stockholm (SWE)
March 25 – Trädgårn, Gothenburg (SWE)
March 26 – Rockefeller, Oslo (NOR)
March 27 – Vega, Copenhagen (DEN)
March 29 – Grosse Freiheit 36, Hamburg (GER)
March 30 – O13, Tilburg (NED)
April 1 – UEA, Norwich (UK)*
April 2 – Academy 1, Manchester (UK)*
April 3 – ABC, Glasgow (UK)*
April 5 – Vicar Street, Dublin (IRL)*
April 7 – Rock City, Nottingham (UK)*
April 8 – Academy, Birmingham (UK)*
April 9 – Forum, London (UK)*
April 11 – Turbinenhalle, Oberhausen (GER)
April 12 – Z7, Pratteln (CH)
April 13 – Alcatraz, Milan (ITA)
April 16 – Gagarin 205, Athens (GR)
April 18 – Kucukciftilik Park, Istanbul (TUR)
April 19 – Universiada Hall, Sofia (BUL)
April 20 – Arenele Romane, Bucharest (ROM)
April 22 – Petöfi Csarnok, Budapest (HUN)
April 23 – Backstage, Munich (GER)
April 24 – Stadthalle, Langen (GER)
April 26 – Stodola, Warsaw (POL)
April 27 – KD Vltavska, Prague (CZE)
April 28 – Arena, Vienna (AUS)
April 29 – Posthof, Linz (AUS)
April 30 – Werk 2, Leipzig (GER)
May 2 – Elysee Montmatre, Paris (FRA)
May 3 – Krakatoa, Bordeaux (FRA)
May 5 – Club Hard, Porto (POR)
May 6 – La Riviera, Madrid (SPA)
May 7 – Razzmatazz 1, Barcelona (SPA)
May 8 – Rock Star Live, Bilbao (SPA)
May 9 – Le Bikini, Toulouse (FRA)
May 11 – LKA Longhorn, Stuttgart (GER)
May 12 – Rockhal, Esch / Alzette (LUX)
May 13 – Atak, Enschede (NED)
May 14 – Halle Gartlage, Osnabruck (GER)
May 15 – Hof Ter Lo, Antwerp (BEL)


  1. I don’t know Islaner, I think in a weird, twisted way, the music video for Rasputin is epic. All the music today kicked ass. Thanks for doing the Finnish tribute week. It has been fucking awesome.

    • Yes — definitely weird and twisted, and I do have to give them credit for deciding to go so far outside their box on the video. And thanks for the nice words about this series bro!

      • No more usage of “outside the box” I want to find whoever coined that phrase and intoduce him/her to one of Phro’s tentacled monstrosities and then sit back and laugh with glee at the horror that unflolds.

        • Ya got me. Yes, it’s a wretched cliche. You will never, ever see it again on this site. We have so many other wretched cliches we can use instead. 🙂

          • As long as the “cliche that shall not be named” and Paradigm are not used, I will not go postal on this blog. 🙂

            If they are used, I cannot be held accountable for my actions. I will claim temporary insanity.

            • One of my site co-founders (Alexis) told me a month or two ago that if I ever again used the word “epic” when speaking to her, she would stop talking to me. Of course, that hasn’t stopped me from using it in posts, though I cringe every time I do it now.

  2. After watching the Rasputin video, I would gladly sacrifice an orphan or two on the alter of an inverted pentagram to have Turisas do some crossover work with Goat the Head.

    • An inspired idea! Man, wouldn’t that be sweet. They both like to wear animal pelts. They both clearly have a fun-lovingly demented approach to metal. A cage match — clubs vs. battle axes!

  3. I saw Ensiferum stick out like a sore thumb (speaking of wretched cliches :D) on the Summer Slaughter tour a couple years ago; I’ll definitely have to catch them again on the Finnish Metal Tour 2! And they do a great cover of Amorphis’ “Into Hiding”on their ‘Dragonheads’ EP; live version here (with the guy that did the clean vocals on the original!):

    I really gotta try to get to a Turisas show when they’re in town, as I missed them last time they toured here with Dragonforce and Powerglove; guess the CoF tour will do! As for the “Rasputin” video, it reminds me of something Rammstein would pull from their bag of tricks… 😀

    • Thanks for that video link — damn cool bass solo at the end!

      Now that you mention it, the “Rasputin” video does look like something Rammstein would do (no fucking on camera though).

  4. ‘Rasputin’ is actually a cover of a disco song by Boney M, which is why it seems a bit out of character for Turisas. It’s a bonus track, actually, which is also why it doesn’t fit with the album’s storyline.

    It is, however, fucking great, as is Ensiferum. These guys, along with Finntroll and Moonsorrow, are the best in folk metal.

    • Thanks for clearing up my confusion. The video makes a lot more sense now. Though I’m still trying to get my mind around Turisas choosing to cover a Boney M disco song. 🙂

  5. Turisas are… well, awful. Utterly, utterly awful. They’re barely “metal” in any sense of the word and are generally just an embarassment,

    Have you considered mentioning Kiuas in any of your Finland Tribute Week articles? I’m not a fan per se, but our drummer really is and they are at the very least a band I can respect.

    • I’ve got Kiuas on the big list I assembled from previous comments, but I don’t know the music. I do intend to listen to almost everything recommended before I close down this tribute — and the more I listen, the more this thing just keeps on going.

  6. This would be a good place to mention Wintersun. Wintersun is basically the brainchild of Jari Maenpaa, who was Ensiferum’s original vocalist/guitarist on their first two albums (Ensiferum and Iron). Kai Hahto (formerly of Rotten Sound, now in Swallow The Sun) is the drummer, and both he and Jari turn in performances worthy of the gods of Asgard. Their lone self-titled album from 2004 is one of my favorite metal albums of all time, and I’m old as dirt.

    There’s a bit of an embarrassing soap opera going on around the release of their long-delayed second album, aptly titled “Time”. Apparently they’ve been struggling to contain all of the epic tracks on a computer recording system, and have emerged once or twice a year to issue statements to the effect of “we’re still working on it, but your puny mortal technology cannot yet adequately capture our majestic sagas.” Each year, Nuclear Blast ponies up to buy them more recording gear with nothing yet to show for it – maybe this year they can line up some sort of quantum computer that will allow the record to finally materialize. I’m actually starting to think that there’s not much chance it can live up to expectations.


    • Thanks for that. I bought that WIntersun album about a year after it came out, on the strength of some glowing reviews, and I agree — it’s really strong. I’d completely lost track of them, so I’m glad to know what’s been happening — or not happening.

      • I forgot Wintersun were Finnish…

        Although to be fair I really don’t get the hype surrounding them. There seems to be nothing that special about their music.

        Their drummer Kai Hahto has recently joined Swallow The Sun however…. most liekly due to the severe delays in new Wintersun material appearing.

        • You may have forgotten Wintersun is Finnish, but I’ve gone through periods when I forgot they existed. I’m going to listen to their album again today to see if it now sounds as good as my memory tells me it does (though it’s an old memory), and also because they’re in tomorrow’s post. 🙂

          • “You may have forgotten Wintersun is Finnish, but I’ve gone through periods when I forgot they existed.”

            All I can say is “ZING!”

  7. I am loving Finnish week, since many of my favorite bands are from that country and I might (fingers-crossed – another horrid cliche) be visiting next year to go to the Tuska festival on the way to Wacken.

    Rasputin (the Boney M version) is, embarrassingly, one of my favorite songs from my youth … I recall my drunk mother dancing to it at a party once when I was about seven, and I wanted to know what a Rasputin was, and got a whole bunch of adults giving a very drunk, very outlandish impromptu history lesson. I think Turisas’ version is so much fun! I was stoked to see them in 09, but I found a lot of their other songs didn’t really stand out.

    • Great to see your comment Steff! I hope you get to Tuska on the way to Wacken. I’ve enjoyed seeing the past reports/photos of Wacken on your site — almost makes me feel like I was there — and it would be cool to see what Tuska is like from an eye-witness.

      And I clearly made the right decision to include the “Rasputin” video despite misgivings, since it seems to be the most popular Turisas offering in this post!

  8. Have to say the original version of Battle Metal sounds better. Sound quality/mix is a bit bland on this one.
    Notwithstanding that, it’s a brilliant piece of music!

    • I’ve never been crazy about the “official” video for “Battle Metal” — the one that splices together all the geeked-out fan videos. So I used this one despite the fact that eh song doesn’t sound quite as good as the studio cut on the “official” video.

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