Lo and behold, Ensiferum celebrates 25 years anniversary this year and I still think it’s a “new and promising” Folk/Melodic Death Metal band. I mean, I know about their last album ‘Two Paths’ was released in 2017 and I remember the keyboardist requiting process in the Internet not a long time ago, but nevertheless I still confused. Anyway, it’s gloomy 2020, Ensiferum‘s anniversary and new, eighth album named Thalassic.
“Thalassic” in Greece means “as/or related to the sea” and it’s quite surprising topic from the band, which singed about valiant warriors and glorious battles. “…I started to listen to the demos much more from the feeling aspect instead of analyzing them musically. For some reason, all of them took me to a seashore, and the theme was found: something related to sea or water, – tells vocalist and bassist Sami Hinka, – So I started to read about history, myths and legend around the world that had something to do with the theme, but even though all of the lyrics are obviously inspired by this, I tried my best to keep Ensiferum‘s heroic mentality in them.”
The album opens with atmospheric intro “Seafarer’s Dream” with the sounds of winds, sea, wood creaking and leisurely acoustic guitar – this settles the mind of the listener. Then all the instruments changed with epic orchestra and turns to the first single from the album “Rum, Women, Victory”, where that one “Ensiferum‘s spirit”, which Sami was talking about, can be heard very well. There are fast drums, galloping guitars, inherent for the band, catchy Folk motives, melodic solo and Petri Lindroos’ harsh vocals; basically, this song has all the elements expected from the band. The next one, “Andromeda”, which tells an ancient Greek mythos, shows the skills of a new band’s member, vocalist and keyboardist Pekka Montin: his clean vocals, more inherent to Power Metal, fits Ensiferum‘s music greatly, alternating with Petri’s rough harsh. In fast and melodic “Run From The Crushing Tide”, clean and harsh vocals alternate as well; this adds some variety to the typical band’s song while maintaining all the trademarks.
At the same time there is an unexpected surprise in Thalassic: “Midsummer Magic”. Uneven, cheerful (and probably drunk) male voices, light Folk motive and a merry melody can’t be connoted with this band at all. You can expect to hear such song on some Korpiklaani album but not on Ensiferum‘s one. There are some heavy guitars and harsh vocals also at some moment but nevertheless, this track is a nice surprise.
And of course there are some epicness and pathos in the album, emphasized with the orchestra. “One With The Sea” starts with beautiful Lassi Logren violin and later guitars with orchestra turn this song to an epic ballad with an ounce of sadness. Furthermore, in my opinion, unlike some previous albums, there is that much orchestration in Thalassic as it needs.
But the most epic piece here is almost nine minutes long “Cold Northland (Väinämöinen Part III)”, which refers to the Finnish epos “Kalevala”. Sad piano and guitars in the beginning of the song remind early HammerFall a little bit with their pathos but when the orchestra joins, all the imaginary similarity is gone. At the second half music becomes faster, leaving the main melody, drums start with the blast beats and you cannot be mistaken: it’s 100% Ensiferum, which combines Death Metal, Folk motives and great melodies.
The only lack of the album is Janne Parviainen’s drums, muffled too much, for my taste. They fast, interesting but sometimes they sound too far, highlighting guitars and vocals but again, in my opinion, it would be nice if they were sound louder and stronger in the mix.
Nevertheless, with Thalassic the band gave exactly what was expected from them: powerful sound, trademark galloping, harsh vocals and Folk melodies. But the band moves on: the line-up changes were undoubtedly good for the band and now Ensiferum developing and experimenting without forgetting their roots. There are a lot of things to joy in this album, to be surprised and to be impressed. Awesome work!
Thalassic was released on July, 10th via Metal Blade Records.
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