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Ensiferum's debut album called "Ensiferum" and the role of guitarist Markus Toivonen

Updated on July 5, 2017

A photo of Ensiferum guitarist Markus Toivonen playing LIVE in 2010


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. This is not going to be straightforward CD review but an analysis of an album and what kind of role that the band’s founder 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

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. 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.

The song called Token of Time

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.

The song called Guardians of Fate

Favorite song on the album Ensiferum

What is your favorite song on the album Ensiferum?

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The song called Little Dreamer

The self-titled album Ensiferum on Amazon

The very catchy song called Treacherous Gods


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