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A Review of Ensiferum's Debut Album Called "Ensiferum"

Updated on July 12, 2023
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Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

Markus Toivonen


Markus Toivonen is one of the most underrated guitarists in the music industry

The Finnish folk metal band Ensiferum has had a long career dating back to 1995 when it was first founded. Markus Toivonen has been the main guitarist and primary songwriter in the band. He has been the only member to be with the band since its founding. I decided to try to explain why Markus Toivonen is such a talented guitarist and how he plays that role in Ensiferum’s debut album called Ensiferum released back in 2001. At the very first writing of this album it was not intended to be a full album review but I have decided to change course and talk about this debut album and the role what kind of role that Markus Toivonen plays in it to create a fine example of an outstanding melodic death metal album. He can play so beautifully that is hard to not enjoy the work that he puts in. One such example is the Intro track to the album. Toivonen is still young because he was born in 1979 in Finland’s capital of Helsinki. Here is the track listing for the album called Ensiferum:

Track Listing for the album Ensiferum

  1. Intro
  2. Hero in a Dream
  3. Token of Time
  4. Guardians of Fate
  5. Old Man
  6. Little Dreamer
  7. Abandoned
  8. WindRider
  9. Treacherous Gods
  10. Eternal Wait
  11. Battle Song

Token of Time and Guardians of Fate set the tone for the Album "Ensiferum"

The terrific guitar play by Toivonen continued into the song “Token of Time” as he starts out with some beautiful acoustic guitar work and the lead guitar work is fast, technical, and excellent enough for him to be considered one of the heavy metal greats. Guardians of Fate is another excellent song and is one to listen to if you want to be in a great mood. The song is about brave men who go on a long journey into lands that are unknown. They travel far away from their homes never to return.

Memebers That Play on the Album "Ensiferum" Other Than Markus Toivonen

The album has the following members:

Jari Maenpaa- guitars and vocals

Jukka-Pekka Miettinen- bass guitars

Oliver Fokin- drums and percussion

Hernri Sorvali of the band Finntroll contributes keyboard parts for the band as a guest performer.

"Guardians of Fate"

Other reasons for the great talent of Markus Toivonen

Toivonen’s guitar variety is shown with the song called “Old Man (Vainamoinen part1)" as the song starts with a slow guitar part similar to what Theatre of Tragedy would use in their debut album. But then the song gets into a fast, folk influenced song that Ensiferum is so good at. The melodic guitar playing of Toivonen continues unabated into the next song called Little Dreamer. Near the end of the song is a melodic interlude style part that bands like Kalmah or even Norther can do but in this case, it is so beautifully written that is epic in my opinion! This one is another outstanding song in addition to Guardians of Fate. Abandoned is the next song in the album and it has an extensive use of clean vocals in it to provide even more variety in terms of songs. One major difference between Ensiferum and Finntroll is that Ensiferum has all English lyrics whereas Finntroll has Swedish or Finnish lyrics. The song “Treacherous Gods” has a terrific beginning as the guitar work is slow at first but highly melodic and it would leave music fans impressed! Eternal wait begins with some more acoustic guitar and then the clean vocal part starts again. This becomes a pattern for the band but Toivonen is so gifted that he really makes it work well. It is a shame that he may never achieve the fame that guitarists like Marty Friedman or James Hetfield have achieved because this guy is really good! He can play with melody, speed, and feeling and these are a few key qualities that make a great guitar player. Six years after the band’s formation, Ensiferum is a terrific way for the band to start out and Toivonen shows that he can play and compete with heavy metal’s elite musicians. The intro in the album is one of the first indicators of his talent and ability. That should give listeners a clue as to how talented Toivonen really is. He gets better as the album goes on. Ensiferum are one of the best bands in the melodic death/folk metal genre and Toivonen is a big reason for this.

Favorite song on the album Ensiferum

What is your favorite song on the album Ensiferum?

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"Little Dreamer"

Has Ensiferum's Debut Album Fared Well Over Time?

Looking back at an album that is more than 20 years old, how has it stood the test of time? Now there are no bad albums by Ensiferum and such a musical accomplishment does not always happen but Ensiferum have been fortunate enough to have had this kind of musical sort of excellence we can say. Markus Toivonen has been the only member to have been with Ensiferum since the band’s formation in 1995. His first occurrence of guitar excellence could be seen with the lead guitar in Token of Time. Battle Song is one of those that really builds up as Jari’s harsh voice kicks in and dominates this one. The chanting stuff that we would hear on the band’s later albums is present here. I see that sort of Nocturnal Rites influence in this one but think of it as Nocturnal Rites mixed in with folk metal riffing.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2016 Ara Vahanian


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