Measuring them in the number of releases, you could see Ensiferum with their third album, "Victory songs" as a latecomer of Finnish Pagan/Folk Metal. But the sword swingers with warpaint don't have to fear any competition. Which appeared to look a bit different after the departure of frontman, Jari Mäenpää, who directly after the release of "Iron" in 2004 founded his own, successful band, Wintersun. But Petri Lindroos, the new singer and guitarist could quickly establish in the centre of the band. At the latest after the Wacken Roadshow-Tour, 2006, featuring Ensiferum at the top, the tall Petri was integrated in the community. On the last show in Stuttgart, he drew the attention of the audience not only by his regular show: with previously unseen entertainer qualities he could even recommend himself for a second career as a stripper. Smilingly, Lindroos remembers that night: "Our bass player, Sami Hinkka had his birthday and we had the wonderful opportunity to cover Napalm Death: The husband of our keyboardist, Meiju, was present, too, and he is the drummer in Finntroll. Because they had studied this difficult piece of music history before, he knew what to do."
Well, it shouldn't remain unmentioned that this shortest single ever is hardly longer than one second long. "With our blast we could even stay below that mark! My first Napalm Death-album was their debut, 'Scum'. My sister is ten years older than me and I have always been maltreated with Michael Jackson and Madonna. I still like this kind of music", Petri presents himself painless. "My first self-bought tape was Megadeth's "Countdown to extinction". Of this album and of "Rust in peace", I have the guitar-songbooks. It will probably take another ten years until I'll be able to play the crazy solos of Marty Friedman and Dave Mustaine – which really pisses me off. Chris Poland, Marty's predecessor, is quite ingenious, too."
Compared to these highly complex arts in music, Uriah Heep's "Lady in black" is a campfire-suitable Rock evergreen for beginners: "Uriah Heep were legends long before we were born and we really like this wonderful, folky ballad. We re-recorded that song as a bonus for the Finnish single and the limited edition of 'Victory songs' and modified it with some traditional instruments." With his joining in Ensiferum, a whole new musical world opened up for Petri. As the guitarist and frontman in Norther, he had neither been familiar with the lyrical backgrounds, nor with the strongly traditional composition- and performance-techniques. "It must have been in 2001 when I first saw Ensiferum. I had never heard the demos. Since then, we met every now and then, especially because with Norther we had our rehearsal rooms in the same building. After Jari's departure they were desperately looking for a short-term substitute for the tour. Within two weeks, I had learned the songs and I began to like them. Before that, I had never listened to Folk or performed Folk. For me, this was a challenge. Also, I love touring!" In one bus with the fellow countrymen, Finntroll and The Wake, they soon drank to close friendship with each other. "For me, it was clear from the beginning, that I could only sing the clear part. Parallel playing an undistorted guitar had definitely not been my strength those days. The ensemble playing improved me as a singer and musician. By frequent rehearsals, I have also improved in the complicated riffs and the timing of the vocal lines. Originally, they had been looking for an allrounder, like Jari, but Markus and Sami have perfectly arranged with the situation of having to do the choirs without my support."
Petri's first test was the "Dragonheads" mini-CD with one new song from band founder and guitarist, Markus, the fantastic Amorphis-cover, "Into hiding", as well as older, traditional material: "Like on the new album, I have recorded almost all guitars alone in my studio. 'Dragonheads' is a Viking hymn, hence the dragon ship on the cover instead of continuing the saga around our bearded warrior. Because we all wrote on the lyrics and mixed this mythology side with a strong fictional part, I don't have any problems with identifying with that."
Although Ensiferum have always sung about heroic battles, the musicians had to borrow the weapons, armors and chain-coats for the photo session from their friends. "It is impossible for us to wear all this crap during a concert. It was heavy enough to wear this chain coat of over 20 kilo and stand more or less tall for several hours. You wouldn't believe how free you feel once you got rid of it again. And I had a job in a store for several years, so you can imagine that I am used to physical work." Eliminating the sweaty shows and the obligatory drinking sessions, Petri's priorities are of spiritual, creative nature. Hence, he doesn't fear that Ensiferum could ever lack in lyrical inspirations or melodies. At least, they don't invest in all sorts of side-projects, either. "Hey, we have a record deal to fulfill. Beside me in Norther, only our drummer, Janne Parviainen has another project running."
Similarly as Roope in Children Of Bodom or Marko in Nightwish, Janne as a member of the earliest Finnish Metal generations is on board of Ensiferum. "He is some kind of father figure to us and always has cool stories in store, like from the 1992-tour with Waltari. Janne knows the business, knows the problems that can show up on tour and he is an awesome drummer. He is always keen on the adventure and definitely not the calmest and most restrictive person in the band. On our Japan tour in 2005, we were completely drunk and went out to explore Tokyo by subway. After five hours of complete disorientation we finally found back to the hotel and went on drinking."
The lyrics for the new single, "One more magic potion" deals with the topic alcohol abuse, yet changes the setting from the big city into the forest. Petri himself has long found his personal, magic beverage: "Gin Tonic is the drop of fortune for all moments in life. With that I do not only feel good, also my environment becomes brighter. The song deals with trolls and gods but after all it is only about how good beer tastes. If I believe in trolls? Well, since I know at least six Finntrolls, I have to say yes! Well, anyway. Speaking of fantastic creatures, Ahti is not only the God of the sea and the fishing but also the name of a Black Metal project of Ville (Moonsorrow) and Henri Sorvali (Finntroll and Moonsorrow). "Oh, I didn't know that. But I know that I feel much more comfortable on the clearing with a beer than on the high seas. I haven't been out swimming in years. Athi is praised for the good spoils in fishing but he can turn your life to hell if you dare too far out on the seas. That's what this song is about. You gotta respect the sea: don't piss into the water!"
At the moment, Petri doesn't have to worry for his physical well-being: "Victory songs" is a singular triumph march beginning with "Ad victoriam" and gloriously ending with the title song. "We were looking for a powerful and cool title for the overture and we are well aware of the closeness to Bolt Thrower's "... for victory". There is a common thread of going to war, staying in war, blablabla. After all, we are the powerful winners also if all our friends died. We keep their remembrance in honours and drink on them." Petri doesn't seem to take his own image too seriously – and doesn't fear the Pagan Metal-scene police. "We don't care if one has to be a 100 % true or isn't allowed to laugh. If you take this music too seriously, you'll be despairing of the world and have to commit suicide. Of course we work hard on our compositions but we see many things around us with a wink of the eye. After the recordings, we realized how many happy melodies are on "Victory songs". So how could you stand on stage and refuse to laugh", is the rhetorical question.
"Most of the songs are from Markus. With 'The new dawn', I contributed the shortest song, Meiju composed 'Raised by the sword' plus the intro, 'Ad victoriam' which combines many melodies of the album." The Sonic Pump Studio is well worth a recommendation for several reasons, says Petri. The biggest advantage is the excellent sauna. Also, it is very close to the centre of Helsinki. I have known the producer for seven years now. He is a musician himself and plays in the Heavy Metal-band, Thunderstone. You can have parties every night and sleep at home – maybe we should be moving back into the wasteland next time."
A plan that Lindroos in privacy had to move again and again since he has to keep two professional bands working. "I think of that almost every day. But I have to rock 24/7. I was probably born for this. If I would ever draw back into a lonesome hut in the woods, I wouldn't have any music with me. Only the twitter the birds and this roaring of a moose and the rumbling of a bear every now and then. A few beers and some bottle of Gin close at hand, of course." Which would be the end of all silence, too. "One more magic potion", and Petri would be staggering in the red sunset amongst trolls over a clearing.