Ensiferum (literally "swordtail") is a Finnish metal band from Helsinki. Their music is characterized by epic atmospheres with varied rhythms and alternating chorus of guttural and clear vocals. They are classified in viking metal by the themes addressed in their songs and by their imagery.
The group was formed in 1995. Originally, Markus Toivonen was a guitarist in an amateur band named Dark Reflections and played covers of bands such as Megadeth and Pantera. Little by little, he thinks that this group does not satisfy him, and, turns towards the folk music and the melodic death metal, influenced by groups like Dark Tranquility and Amorphis>.
One day, Markus asks his drummer Kimmo Miettinen if playing "epic folk death metal" at his side would interest him: Kimmo agrees. They contact their bassist friend Sauli Savolainen who agrees to join them. All that remained was to find a name for this group. One day, Markus goes to Sauli's house, he grabs a dictionary of Latin, opens it at random and falls on the word ensiferum. This word fascinated him from the start and its meaning (literally "sword bearer") confirms his desire to make the group's name. In 1996, Ensiferum began to rehearse at the Pasila Youth House in Helsinki (where the rehearsals for Dark Reflections had already taken place). Markus quickly composed the first three pieces of the group: Knighthood , Old Man (Väinämöinen ) and Frost . Jari Mäenpää reinforces the band's ranks with his talents as singer and guitarist; his experience enriches Ensiferum's artistic background with new ideas. Jari took care of writing some lyrics, like those of "Old Man" . The other two compositions did not need his pen, Markus having given the words of "Knighthood" and Sauli of those of Frost .
In 1997, Jari did his military service, the group is forced to stop; the other musicians take advantage of this time to improve their game. On his return, at the end of 1997, the group repeats intensively for their first demo which is recorded during the month of November at Kivi-Studios. The demo containing their three songs ( lang = "in"> Frost , Old Man and Knighthood is printed in 300 copies the following year. In 1998, new songs are already ready, including "Little Dreamer" (Väinämöinen II) . But Ensiferum has to take a break again: Sauli Savolainen focuses on his studies and Kimmo Miettinen will play with Arthemesia. That same year, Oliver Fokin left Arthemesia and made some tests with Markus: they are conclusive, so Oliver integrates Ensiferum (the two groups have somehow exchanged their drummers). At the same time, Sauli is replaced by Kimmo's little brother, Jukka-Pekka Miettinen, then fourteen years old. A new line-up being formed, the band is ready to take up the challenge of a new demo.