ENSIFERUM – UNSUNG HEROES
Release Date: August 27, 2012
Label: Spinefarm Records
I believe when people want to live a simpler life they can turn back to their ancestors. Perhaps that sounds like a bit of gibberish, but what is interesting is embracing your history in a modern way. For years now Europeans have been taught to be ashamed of their past usually pertaining to the various atrocities inflicted by them on the world, often related to religious persecution. Still every nation can find something to be proud of from their storied past. The essence of one’s cultural history and the beauty of rich landscapes are second to none. Inspirations from the periods gone by are urging a revival process. Swords, sorcery and warrior themes are finding prominence once again in music in the form of Folk Metal. Walking down on the same beliefs and bearing the flag are the sons of Finland, Ensiferum.
It’s been seventeen years since their foundation in 1995. From Helsinki, Finland, primarily beginning as a cover band, they have been one of the frontrunners of folk metal since their story of success began in 2001 with their first full length self-titled release. Shredding through the years they are here with their highly anticipated fifth studio album Unsung Heroes.
To the review… The first thought after listening to the record was where do I begin?? Confused… Are you?? Honestly I was. The minute those songs started rolling, my excitement got the better of me and I wanted to run over all the tracks instantly. This is how good their new release stands out to be. The album consists of 10 songs with a total time-span of 61 minutes. Each single has been beautifully crafted and written. They are aptly fitting to your mood swings.
The instrumental intro “Symbols” announces their arrival and takes you off to a high-spirited journey to those mystical times. The focus has been shifted more towards mid to low tempo compositions with melody being the most important content layering their inner darker sides that has given a different dimension to the output. Fast catchy riffs ,well blended harmonics, touching guitar solos accompanied with powerful progressions and unique routes makes it even stronger and a would be guitarist can learn many things from them.
The revelation for me has been the relatively young keyboardist Emmi Silvennoinen. Filling the shoes of Meiju Enho, she has grown very well From Afar with her magical keyboard pieces additionally lending her voice on the fifth track “Celestial Bond”. Her tonality is typically symphonic but if you do forget her voice you certainly won’t forget this song. It’s an acoustic folklore song with those soothing keyboard routes which while gazing into emptiness makes you believe that somewhere there exists a wonderland. Acoustic and Folk elements have been well incorporated reminding us of their traditional folk touches and brilliance. Opera vocals implied in most of their choruses (plus the harshness of Petri Lindroos) are appealing to their battle stories and are simply majestic!!
While every track has my respect, the masterpiece definitely is “Unsung Heroes”. The song is a treat for any listener with its unforgettable intro and the chorus humming in your head even when you close your eyes calling it a day for your bedtime.”Burning Leaves“ serves as an icing on the cake right after you have cherished the title track. “Pohjola” and “Retribution shall be mine“ maintains the trademark Ensiferum style we knew with the fast paced tempos and variations in between parts yet it feels new on the other side. The only song that brings out my hesitancy is “Passion Proof Power“. I am not taking away anything from them as the song has its moments but 17 minutes is too long for repetitive listening after the spectacles I have already been treated to.
A long time follower may debate about the fact that whether Ensiferum have drifted from their previous speedy thrashy signature styles evident in their 2007 album Victory Songs. Well who cares?? Metal is always not about being extreme. If I were to take a dip into the rivers of melody flowing through the Ensiferum land I am certainly glad to do so. I can go on and on and be at a loss of words for further appreciation but this record will keep on soaring high for a long time. At the end it would seriously take a Hero’s effort to write such a release. Back in 2009 I had come across a statement somewhere on the internet where they said “Folk Metal Is Dead.” After hearing this only thing I can say is Think Again!!It has come a long way from the days Of Skyclad and this album is a living example of it.
Conclusion: As the curtains fall and the warriors walk away into the fading sun, a fan within me bows down in respect for their monumental album. This is already going to be a Folk Metal Classic In the following years to come. The Unsung Heroes have made it successfully From Afar. In their swords you can trust and order your copy right now if you want to be a part of one of the best albums of this year…!!!