A band that has been instrumental in the proliferation of folk metal, not to mention melo-death, Finland’s Ensiferum are at the top of their game right now. Following the release of their first demo in 1997, the Helsinki lads have released eight highly acclaimed albums, including 2001’s debut and it’s 2004 follow up ‘Iron’ with Wintersun’s Jari Maenpaa, 2009’s ‘From Afar’ featuring former Norther singer/guitarist Petri Lindroos, and 2020’s superb ‘Thalassic’, their career pinnacle thus far. That one went on to top Finland’s album chart, reaching #3 in Germany, and top ten in Switzerland, Canada, and the United States. Now Ensiferum are gearing up to release ‘Winter Storm’, their ninth icy blast of Scandi folk/power/melo-death, which is set for release on October 8th via Metal Blade.

Much of the new material emerged in the lockdown era, when founding guitarist Markus Toivonen set himself the challenge of finding new ways to make music, eventually composing every song except the rousing, anthemic ‘Fatherland’ written by bassist Sami Hinkka. The addition of singer/organist Pekka Montin’s crystal-clear melodic high notes provided a tremendous boost on ‘Thalassic’. But on ‘Winter Storm’, a fantasy concept narrative penned by Hinkka, Montin’s super-strong voice finds its optimal place in Ensiferum’s sound. Bringing to life such grandiose, heroic material, the singer emerges as one of the greatest vocal discoveries of the decade.

“The way I see it, this album is more like a ‘musical’ than a traditional album,” says Hinkka. “The lyrics are based on part of my unpublished fantasy book. One day it will be out. I don’t want to reveal the plot or details too much but ‘Winter Storm Vigilantes’ and ‘Fatherland’ tell of two factions in this long tale. The Vigilantes have gained knowledge to utilize certain rare elements, and even though there was already magic in this world, with this new epiphany they have reached a completely new level. This element seems to interact with living things in a way that even the wisest men don’t completely understand. And through generations of trial and error, they have refined a skill to expose their horses to the element and managed to break the law of gravity, making their steeds fly. But they became ruthless and greedy on their quest to gain more of this element. A small tribe in the north keep on fighting for their land, which the Vigilantes plan to take over. These North Folks will literally fight until the last man. Other characters include a Vigilante castaway, the last shaman of the North Folk, and a mysterious widow. The album ends with a great battle against the Vigilantes and the unholy alliance of the castaway and the North Folk shaman, who has transcended into a spirit wolf. Who will prevail? Will this be the final battle of the book? Time will tell! I understand that all this sounds very far out, well, it is a fantasy book, but believe me, it will be truly an epic story!”

Adds Hinkka of the first single from the offering, ‘Winter Storm Vigilantes’, “Markus had quite grandeur visions of the song and it turned out to be even more heroic than we expected. It was an obvious choice to open the new album. This epic song serves as one faction of the big story. The song pushes forward with the might of a thousand horses and will surely be a great song in the future setlist.”

Photo by Svetlana Goncharova

Watch the video for ‘Winter Storm Vigilantes’ right here:

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