ENSIFERUM Twilight Tavern

Finland-based Ensiferum certainly seems to have become a sort of sensation. They have just published their newest record ‘From Afar’ and they are constantly hitting the cover positions in the most of leading European and North American print-metal media. Comparing to previous full-length ‘From Afar’ is much more diverse album with cool variations. The music has become more epic and bombastic while the production is stronger and massive. There’s no doubt that ‘From Afar’ is going to be one of the major releases in 2009.

Hello! ’From Afar’ is the title for you newest record. So far, there have been indeed positive reactions from both fans and media, but also there were even some, more or less, neutral views in some of major metal magazines (German Rock Hard 7/10). Also, you have already received cover stories in leading magazines. So, are you satisfied so far by the whole public reaction?
Hello. The most important thing for us is that we are satisfied for the result and we can stand behind every song. Of course, it’s nice that fans and media seem to like the new album also, but the fact is that you cant please everyone.

Please, add some more info about ’From Afar’. Who were the producers, where it was recorded and how long did the recording process take time? Was it hard to compose and finish new issue?
We recorded ‘From Afar’ in April-May this year. We had two producer/recorders; Janne Joutsenniemi (Producer of ‘Victory Songs’) and Tero Kinnunen (Amorphis, Nightwish etc.) Recording session went very smoothly.

’From Afar’ is surely much more complex record comparing to previous album ’Victory Songs’. Surely, the keyboards this time are more epic and monumental, aside being folk-based as usual. But how do you look, from your point of view, on your newest effort?
We had some orchestral arrangements this time along keyboards and real folk instruments. ‘From Afar’ is the most ambitious, biggest, and most solid and overall the best album we have made so far. I think it was natural step forward after Victory Songs.

You have already filmed and broadcasted your first video-clip entitled as the album. This song is surely the most effective one so it was the obvious choice to choose it. Where the clip was filmed? What did you try to present with this new video? There is definitely some kind of story behind.
‘From Afar’ was a good choice for video song for few reasons; it’s one of the shortest songs on the album and it had some new elements compared to older material so it gave some preview about the sound of the new album. It was filmed in various locations but scene where the band appear was filmed in forest somewhere in Espoo (near Helsinki). We didn’t write the script for the video, we send some basic ideas of lyrics for the company who made the video and this is how it turned out, we like it because its not typical “band bangs their head and plays instruments”-video.

Everybody who has already checked out ’From Afar’ album speaks about track ’Stone Cold Metal’. So, whose idea was to compose and record this song and what is the story behind this track?
Western themes are actually nothing new in our music, there were some elements in songs called ‘Iron’ and ‘Wanderer’ but this time we wanted to go over the top.

Clean vocals parts (both male and female), as well, as chanting are indeed very present this time, in every song. But, do you plan in the future to become more focused on these clean vocal parts (maybe even to abandon the screams)?
Nah, we love harsh vocals so they will never disappear from our music.

Also, there are huge ambient parts that are giving this monumental effect and feeling to the whole album concept, especially in the closing long-time running track: ’The Longest Journey (Heathen Throne Part II)’. This is certainly a new issue in Ensiferum’s music soundscape. Are you going to continue to compose such tracks?
Let’s see, we don’t plan these things ahead. We just keep writing songs that we like and this time we created two over ten minutes’ long monsters.

‘From Afar’ album has many different versions. There are several digi-packs, with one bonus song, and alongside with the music, a buyer could also receive some attractive items: beer-bags, t-shirts, hoodies etc. So, please add some more info about this items and the difference between regular and special editions.
I have no idea about beer-bags etc. but in limited version there is a cover song featuring special guest vocalist from Tyr.

You are going now to conquer both Europe and North America with your two huge tours. In America Hypocrisy are going to be your support act (as well as epic extreme metal act Ex Deo). How did it happen that Hypocrisy has become only a support act to you? Everybody has asked themselves about this since Peter & co. are on the scene for so long time. So, you must be indeed proud to have such a band as a support.
Yes we start European tour next week with few shows in Finland and after four weeks we head straight to North-America. We are extremely happy for getting so great bands on tour with us. Hypocrisy is already releasing new album so I believe that we are going to have sold out venues for whole tour.

Also, on your tour dates you are going to play several shows in Australia. You are going to appear on Scream festival, the first huge metal festival in Australia together with few bigger names from Europe (Sonata Arctica, Dark Funeral etc.). How do you feel about your show there?
We are really looking forward to kick some ass when we get down under! I think we are the first folk metal band that goes there so let’s hope this will open doors for other bands also.

Where did you have your best show (if you can choose such one) and were did you witness your biggest nightmare-if it is not a secret?
It’s impossible to say just one gig but Wacken 2008 was a great experience. There have been some technical problems during some gigs but nothing too serious, we have been pretty lucky.

What about the topics on the new album? Lyric-wise Ensiferum were mainly inspired by some myths, mythological scenes, fantasy stuff. So, did you continue to write your lyrics in the same way as before?
Yes lyrics are basic Ensiferum-stuff inspired by Kalevala, Nordic myths, nature and pure fantasy.

You’ve already released one DVD before, but the main question is: are you going to record and publish a new one during your next touring shows? I mean, it could be indeed cool if you can publish it even as bonus DVD with regular album.
We are recording new material on almost every gig that we play and we are planning to release a huge DVD at some point. It would be like Ensiferum history from day one to this day. Markus has actually the very first gig of Ensiferum from year 1996 so we have to include that, hehe.

At last, I would like to thank you for your answers and time! Do you have any message to write down to your fans in Serbia? Maybe the ship of destiny will take you some day to perform here
Enjoy the new album and keep harassing your local promoters/club owners so we can get there as soon as possible. Cheers!

Interview by Marko Miranovic