Ensiferum – Thalassic will be released in July 2020

A conversation with Sami during a difficult time

Artist: Ensiferum

Herkunft: Helsinki & Espoo, Finnland

Genre: Viking Metal, Folk Metal, Pagan Metal, Melodic Death Metal

Label: Metal Blade Records

Link: https://ensiferum.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Ensiferum/

Bandmitglieder:

Vocals and Guitar – Petri Lindroos
Vocals and Guitar – Markus Toivonen
Bass – Sami Hinkka
Keyboard and Vocals – Pekka Montin
Drums – Janne Parviainen

Ensiferum will release a new record in July 2020. As release party the band announced a streaming show. A lot of things to discuss with the Folk Metal Band from Finland, during corona pandemic via email. You find the Thalassic review here and also a discography check is available (Klick) in German language.

 

Time For Metal / Jürgen:

Hi Sami,
Thanks for your time. Hope you are all well in Finland and no one has issues with a virus.

Ensiferum / Sami:

Thanks, we are all fine, no one is infected and we looking positive forward

Time For Metal / Jürgen:

Let us start with the beginning of Ensiferum. In a couple of biographies, I read that Amorphis had a strong impact on Ensiferum. Please could you tell us a little bit more about the beginning of the band? Do you still follow Amorphis, including the onsite projects e.g. Tomi Joutsens Sinisthra?

Ensiferum / Sami:

That’s true. AmorphisTales From The Thousand Lakes had a huge impact on young Markus Toivonen (the founder of the band) and also some other melodic death metal bands like Dark Tranquillity. At some point we shared rehearsal room with Amorphis and we know the guys, true gentlemen. Of course we still follow what they are doing, because they keep releasing good music. I heard about Sinisthra (interesting detail: they are actually on the same label as my other power metal band called Metal De Facto) but haven’t had the time to really listen to their material yet, but I will.

Time For Metal / Jürgen:

Ensiferum have a new face in the band. With Pekka a new guy joined for the keyboards. Means that Netta will reduce the work with Ensiferum?

Ensiferum / Sami:

Yes, Netta left back in 2017, no big drama was involved. But then we decided to take a timeout and not be too hasty to take a new member. When we started to work with the new material, we thought that if we take a new member, what could this person bring to the band that the four of us can’t do, and it was obvious that it was world class clean vocals. So we posted it on our social media, that we are looking for a clean singer/keyboard player and got hundreds of applications from around the world. It was so overwhelming! There were so good musicians sending their applications to us, that we just couldn’t believe it. But Pekka’s application included clips to his old gigs, where he sang Judas Priest, Manowar, Helloween etc. so we decided to invite him to jam with us and get to know each other a bit more. After few sessions everyone agreed that he is our man, and luckily he still wanted to join the band after seeing what kind of people we are, hehe.

Time For Metal / Jürgen:

One question for Petri: No one knows what the future will give to us. Would a reunion of Norther be an option for the future?

Ensiferum / Petri:

I don’t see it happening in the near future.

Time For Metal / Jürgen:

Let us move to Thalassic. The album is driven by 2 main topics. The seafaring and the Kalevala mythology. How are these two main topics connected?

Ensiferum / Sami:

Actually ”the red line” of the album is sea/water related myths/legends/historical events, but that’s true that there are two songs that are inspired by Kalevala. Both of these myths are linked to sea. Actually there is a legendary painting (with the similar name) about the myth, which the song The Defence Of The Sampo tells about.

Time For Metal / Jürgen:

After Rum, Women and Victory we are listening to Andromeda? Do the seafarer have to watch for the stars? Is there a story concept behind the first 3 tracks?

Ensiferum / Sami:

Hehe, that’s true that seafarers had to know a lot about stars, but the songs are linked to each other just by the theme of the album.

Time For Metal / Jürgen:

Sampo is a device from the epos Kalevala; which have mysterious power to make the owner rich. Can you give us a brief summary about the inspiration for this song and the lyrics?

Ensiferum / Sami:

We had some parts of the song ready for quite some time, but once we found the angle for the album and saw how this song was evolving to be very heroic, it was quite easy to find the theme for the lyrics. After that it was much easier to go forward, because you know how the drama of the story goes and you just follow that musically. It turned out to be so great song, that it deserved to be the cover art of the album.

Time For Metal / Jürgen:

Merille Lähtevä is a pure folk track which could also be from Scotland. Is it typically folk song from Finland? What is the meaning of Merille Lähteva? If we translate the 2 words into English, we get “departure to the Sea”. Can you give us a brief summary about this track?

Ensiferum / Sami:

Actually Merille Lähtevä is like a medley made from several parts from different songs from the album. The first idea for this kind of folkish song were composed years ago on a tour, but once all the songs for the album were ready, it was really fun to find the parts we could twist and turn to be part of this song. The lyrics are a poem from another Finnish Epic called Kanteletar and roughly you could translate it as ”The One Leaving To Sea”. It’s really cool song and it was lots of fun to record.

Time For Metal / Jürgen:

Cold Northland (Väinämöinen Part III) is a song about a hero in the national epos Kalevela. Please could you give is a brief summary about the lyrics, songwriting and arrangement of this track? Is it the follow up from part I+II which are on the 1st Ensiferum Album?

Ensiferum / Sami:

Yes, it is like the end part of Väinämöinen-saga for us…at least for now, hah!

This is also one of those songs, that took years to finish. It was quite early stage when Markus (the main composer/the founder of the band) asked from me, that could I write lyrics about Väinämöinen one more time, because he had rough vision of this song and for him it was obviously ”carved from the same wood” (as we say in Finland) than the two previous parts. I had no problem with this, but naturally there are so many poems in Kalevala where Väinämöinen plays a major role, so it was until the theme for the album was clear that I realized, which poem I will use as the inspiration for the lyrics. This is about the last poem of Kalevala where Väinämöinen leaves but promises to return, when his people need him. Literary historians see, that this poem refers to the time, when Christianity came to Finland and old pagan believes were being suffocated.

The song is very ambitious, and I dare to say a bit more artistic than other songs on the album, and there were only two slots, where it could have been put on the running order: the first or the last. Once we had all the songs recorded, it was obvious that this song has to finish the album, because nothing will feel like anything after such a grandiose song.

Time For Metal / Jürgen:

Cold Northland (Väinämöinen Part III) sounds very epic – a little bit like a band which was founded by the former Ensiferum member Jari Mäenpää. Is my impression correct?

Ensiferum / Sami:

Like Wintersun you mean? I didn’t see this one coming, heh. Wintersun, for me, have their very unique style and they do it very well. I think for them it’s a lot about precision of playing and more complex song writing, where as Ensiferum is going more for kinda story telling direction. But there is no right or wrong interpretation, and in the end it’s a huge compliment if you find some resembling elements in our music with Wintersun. They are great guys and incredible musicians, I hope one day we can tour with them.

Time For Metal / Jürgen:

You announced a streaming release show from the Sunic Pump Studios in Helsinki for July 10th. What can we expect? Full electronic show?

Ensiferum / Sami:

Ensiferum is known as an energetic live band, but the energy really comes from the crowd and about the honest interaction between the band and the fans. We have had long discussions about this, but the fact is that we can’t fake it, the atmosphere and energy without the crowd, so we decided to do completely different kind of Ensiferum-experience. We have asked people to send questions to us and we’ll answer to those during the couple breaks we’ll have, and in the end we’ll chat with the people. The setlist will include new, old and rare songs, and this is the first time the world can see us with our new keyboarder/clean vocalist Pekka Montin. So, this will be one of a kind gig! And the beauty of it is, that everyone can participate, no matter where you live and the show will not be sold out, heh.

Time For Metal / Jürgen:

Finally, we have to step in the most dominating topic for the music industry. Do Ensiferum have any plans for live gigs / a tour for 2020/21? Or is the planning stopped due to the ongoing pandemic?

Ensiferum / Sami:

Yes, we had big plans for 2020/2021; festivals and touring around the world, and we had many gigs/tours confirmed and booked, but everything was either postponed or cancelled.  We have few gigs now coming up after the stream gig, but let’s see how things evolve, will they happen or not.

There is no point to worry too much about things that are not in your hands. It’s better to use the time for something productive. Like I recorded my very first solo release during the lockdown, and I’m super excited to get it out soon. Also we are planning to work on the new material for the next Ensiferum album during this time, but we have no rush with it because we have a killer album coming now.

Time For Metal / Jürgen:

In Germany, bands play in a kind of drive-in cinema, where cars park in front of a stage, the sound is transmitted to the car via an FM frequency and the band can be seen on video screens and on stage. Doro played last weekend on one stage. Are there such alternative ideas for live gigs in Finland?

Ensiferum / Sami:

I haven’t heard that this kind of gigs are happening in Finland, but I have to give credit for people for trying to keep the live music alive during these crazy times!

Time For Metal / Jürgen:

Thank you for your time, I hope that Ensiferum will be back on stage asap. Stay healthy, stay metal, stay home!

Ensiferum / Sami:

Thank you for the great interview! Hope to see you on the road soon!

 

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