Ensiferum - One Man Army

Ensiferum - One Man Army

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(CD, Metal Blade, 2015)

You don’t have to be a diehard fan of the Folk Metal scene to know the name of ENSIFERUM, unless you have been living inside a cave having no connection with what has been going on in Metal for the last two decades. Also, it’s not breaking news that the Folk scene has evolved, changed or if you follow an old-schooler’s mentality this genre has lost its initial spark by getting more polished, implementing different styles. To some extent, ENSIFERUM belong to this category and if you compare the first album with the last two (“One Man Army” included), you may see that they don’t sound as raw as they used. But for me, as long as the music is good and satisfies my Metal thirst, then I really don’t care how a band has changed its sound; after all, good music is just good music no matter the style.

ENSIFERUM’s brand new LP, “One Man Army”, passes all the quality checks when it comes to modern Folk Metal with a killer cover artwork and driving songs with enough melodies to wake up the Viking every metalhead has inside him. Yeah, the “March Of War” intro will get you in the right mood to wear your most vivid war-paints on and prep your gear for facing the battle with “Axe Of Judgement”. The opening scream, the fast tempo and the ENSIFERUM trademark riffs quickly set the ‘battle’ Metal surroundings even though the symphonic finishing touches (there is an early-TURISAS vibe there) are highlighted enough to get away some of the rawness the Finns had in previous albums. This also means that the Power Metal elements that are always present in ENSIFERUM have taken a step forward but this should work perfectly with one’s appetite for epic breaks and sing-along parts. And if you’re searching to get your fast-riffs fix then I’d propose the title track of the album that kicks the door down with fast guitars and a ‘charge-to-battle’ tempo that will get you in headbanging mode at no time (a wall of death is not out of question too). Ok, “Warrior Without A War” may come as too polished for the “Victory Songs” lovers but as soon as the tempo gets faster everything sounds in place and I am sure you’ll enjoy the sing-along chorus and the galloping bass-driven rhythm section. During the slower break, the drums sound awesome, so I guess this is what the band was referring to when talking about using an analogue production. You see, we have reached a point when an analogue production is a plus but at the same time we have to cut the bands some slack considering the shrunk or even non-existing budgets from the record labels.

“Two Of Spades” is a drinking-type song with fun lyrics and simple structure that gets the blood moving, while “Neito Pohjolan” pushes the scales to red when it comes to Folk and features a guest appearance that I will let Petri Lindroos reveal in the recent interview he did with METAL KAOZ (the accordion melodies should be a hint). Following the unofficial tradition that started in “Unsung Heroes”, there is another long in time duration song with a three-word title; I am talking about “Descendants, Defiance, Domination” that goes from slow to fast serving in between tons of epic melodies and killer galloping rhythms. Ok, I will admit that the symphonic arrangements have a strong bite here and I’d go as far as raising the BLIND GUARDIAN influences flag during the operatic-esque backing singing.

As far as I am concerned, ENSIFERUM tried to spice things in “One Man Army” while keeping intact most of the elements that made them known in this scene and have succeeded. The result may need additional time to sink in but in the end it will be appealing to the younger fans of this scene. Make a mind note to get the album’s format with the bonus tracks because the take on BARATHRUM’s “Warmetal” is awesome but be aware that the “Bonus Song” might hurt you MANOWAR feelings, if you have absolutely no sense of humor.

8/10


Links:

www.Ensiferum.Com
www.Facebook.Com/Ensiferum


Tracklist:

01. March Of War
02. Axe Of Judgment
03. Heathen Horde
04. One Man Army
05. Burden Of The Fallen
06. Warrior Without A War
07. Cry For The Earth Bounds
08. Two Of Spades
09. My Ancestor's Blood
10. Descendants, Defiance, Domination
11. Neito Pohjolan
12. Rawhide (bonus)
13. Warmetal (bonus)
14. Candour And Lies (bonus)


Lineup:

Markus Toivonen - Guitar, Clean Vocals
Sami Hinkka - Bass, Clean Vocals
Petri Lindroos - Guitar, Hars Vocals
Janne Parviainen - Drums
Emmi Silvennoinen - Keyboards, Backing Vocals