Thursday, September 14, 2017

review: Ensiferum

[review by MMB]
Two Paths
Metal Blade Records
release: 15 September 2017
1.Ajattomasta unesta 02:12
2.For Those About to Fight for Metal 05:17
3.Way of the Warrior 03:57
4.Two Paths 04:48
5.King of Storms 05:16
6.Feast with Valkyries 04:08
7.Don't You Say 03:39
8.I Will Never Kneel 05:00
9.God Is Dead 04:15
10.Hail to the Victor 05:10
11.Unettomaan aikaan 02:14
12.God Is Dead (alternative version) 03:55
13.Don't You Say (alternative version) 03:39
total time: 53:30
After more than two decades of refining and tweaking the music Ensiferum has perfected the art of party metal. There is a time and a place for things, but Ensiferum time is a time to rock, eat, drink and be merry—whether it is a Finnish holiday or just another Monday night in Helsinki, or the 4th of July, Kwanzaa, 5 de Mayo or Oktoberfest, or just a normal midweek pirate party. The music sounds upbeat and fun, with their signature style of folk metal. On the other hand, this is not to say that the band does not take the construction of the songs seriously. On the contrary, you can really hear all the instruments on this recording. The team that put together the sound of this album has done a good job of letting the songs have elbow room. You will hear the bass guitar, for instance, which can often be a test of whether a recording is good or not. You will hear all of the band clearly. I have also tested this recording in the car and it sounds good there, too, it has a nice full sound. I am no expert on sound engineering and all those things, but this does sound rather good.
The songs themselves flow very well as an album. I have been listening to the whole album, not just certain songs. The general feeling of the album is uptempo. These compositions sound perfect for the live setting, demonstrating that this is a band of the people and that the songs are made to be played in front of the fans who will be banging their heads or will have a fist in the air, possibly with a drink in the other. They aim to please and I think the audiences will leave satisfied with what they have witnessed.
Ensiferum cannot be contained by categories, genres and labels. In their own way, they come across as a metal band that can do it all, taking what they need from wherever they want and utilizing all the resources to make the best songs that they can. Melodic singing, extreme vocals, thrashy riffs, power metal melodies, heavy metal hooks, extreme metal energies, folky melodies, pirate/sailor vibes, yup, yup, yeah, it's impossible what to make of it as a genre, and you'll be glad that the band does not care and I don't think you will care about what genre it is, either. This is Ensiferum, it's what they do best.
I won't go into individual songs because this review will turn into something else then, and not a review. The album has an introduction and outtroduction, plus two alternative versions of the songs. All in all, not counting intro/outtro and repeated songs, you will get nine full songs. I don't care about the extra stuff, just the songs themselves. When you look at them, the songs, the album is put together very well, from the thunderstrucking opening song "For Those about to Fight for Metal" to the last one with its end-of-the-party tone that tells you "until we meet again, friend.": "Hail to the Victor." Until we meet in a concert, that is.
A great return for Ensiferum.

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