Ensiferum are one of my favourite bands from one of my favourite metal countries, Finland. I’ve been lucky enough to see them live (awesome) and have been following them since the early days (as in I remember waiting avidly for Iron to be released). They play a very accessible form of melodic folk death metal – or at least that’s how I might describe it, with a thematic base of warriors and battles. They take their themes quite seriously though: more Amon Amarth than Turisas if you want a name check.
This latest album is instantly identifiable from the artwork: the same figure that they have been using since the early days, but this time in a surrounding of bright blues and greens. The music is pretty instantly identifiable too: and if it wasn’t, the title of third track “Way of the Warrior” is a dead give-away. I must confess to having a giggle at some of the lyrics in “King of Storms” – I was convinced for the longest time that the words were “I will rule with beer and cake” (sounds good to me) but on a closer listen apparently it’s “I will rule with fear and pain”. I’m sure that you can guess which is stuck in my head.
My one criticism of this album is for the track “Feast with Valkyries”: I’m not a big fan of female vocals (Doro being a notable exception) and this does less than nothing for me. Pretty soon, it’s back to the bouncy metal that Ensiferum do so well. “I Will Never Kneel” is just too catchy for words, and fits pretty well with my personal beliefs. Follow that up with a catchy, folky track called “God is Dead” and you’ve got something that’s right up my street.
Overall, loved this album, especially the title track. It covers a great deal of ground, from majestic to martial to downright catchiness. It’s one of very few albums that I can see myself playing for some time to come.