Band : Ensiferum
Album : Unsung Heroes
Genre: Folk metal
Release Date: 27.08.2012
Label: Spinefarm Records
Ensiferum is a Finnish folk metal band from Helsinki, Finland. The band was founded in 1995 by Markus Toivonen [guitar], Sauli Savolainen [bass] and Kimmo Miettinen [drums]. For the band’s name they took the latin adjective ensiferum, which means “sword bearer”. One year after the band was formed, Jari Mäenpää joined the band as singer and the second guitar player and the first demo, which contained three songs, was released.
After a few changes in the line-up, the band released two demos in 1999. The last demo, which contained the song “Hero in A Dream”, got Ensiferum a record deal with Spinefarm Records. In 2001, just two years after the last demo was recorded, Ensiferum released its full-length album Ensiferum.
In 2004, after the second album Iron was completed, Jari left Ensiferum due to conflicts between the schedules of Ensiferum and his own band Wintersun. He was replaced by Petri Lindroos, who was the vocalist and the guitarist in the melodic death metal band Norther back then. At the same year, Sami Hinkka [bass] and Janne Parviainen [drums] also joined the band. With this new line-up, Ensiferum recorded an EP called Dragonheads in February 2006. The band also released their live DVD , 10th Anniversary Live at the same year.
Ensiferum released Victory Songs on April 2007. On September 2007, the line-up changed again ; the keyboardist Emmi Silveoinnen replaced Meiju Enho. Emmi first joined the band temporarily but after playing with Ensiferum live, she became a permanent bandmember. With the increasing success of the albums, the band toured a lot of countries and played in festivals in 2008 and 2009.
Ensiferum released From Afar on 2009 via Spinefarm Records. This album made Ensiferum a bigger band and they toured Europe as well as North America and Australia. The band has released five full-length albums, one EP, one compilation, three singles and three demo albums. The last album of the band, Unsung Heroes, was released in August 2012 via Spinefarm Records.
Album Review :
Ensiferum’s new album Unsung Heroes has been one of the most anticipated folk metal albums of 2012 . A lot of Finnish metal fans, including me, had been waiting for this album. Especially after Ensiferum’s latest album From Afar, a lot of fans had wondered how the new album would be like. Will it be like the old albums or will it be in the direction of From Afar and even different?
Unsung Heroes starts with the first intro song “Symbols” .Even from this song, this album gives signals that it is a different album with different melodies and atmospheres. While listening to this short but powerful song, I have to admit that I imagined a middle earth like in J.R.R Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings”. This ambience disappears with “In My Sword I Trust”, which is the second song of this album. I think this song is undoubtedly one of my favorites; this is the Ensiferum that we, the fans, miss and adore; powerful riffs, catchy chorus, the perfect combination of clean and harsh vocals and the atmosphere that makes the listener want to go there and fight! One thing that got my attention is the difference in the vocalist Petri Lindroos’ vocals; it occurred to me that he didn’t sound the same like he did in previous albums. His vocals are deeper throughout the album.
As I kept on listening to the album, I also realized that some songs are connected to each other. Surely, a lot of songs can be thought separately but songs like “Unsung Heroes” and “Burning Leaves” or “Celestial Bond” and “Star Queen (Celestial Bond pt. II)” are like siblings; one can feel the melody and the atmosphere of one song while listening to the other. For example, the listener might not like “Burning Leaves” when listening to it but the same song might create a very different vibe after “Unsung Heroes”; that’s exactly how I felt honestly. I wanted to listen to “Burning Leaves” while listening to “Unsung Heroes” and vice versa. Furthermore, these details make me realize just how unique and professional Ensiferum is.
Another thing that catches my attention about this album is Ensiferum’s style in general. If we take a look at Ensiferum’s previous albums, we can see that they follow a same style throughout the album but I can see that they have changed a bit with this album. The listener might find a lot of different styles ; the album starts with a slow song followed by power-metal like songs (In My Sword I Trust, Unsung Heroes, Burning Leaves) with acoustic songs in between like “Celestial Bond” , “Last Breath”. As a matter of fact, any other Ensiferum fan might think that this is not a typical Ensiferum album at all; but as the album is listened more and more, the listener can understand that Ensiferum took everything to the next level. The vocals are stronger, the guitar riffs are more powerful and the songs in general are more orchestral. Furthermore, the band even has a surprise for fans in the album which is the cover of the Gypsy Kings song “Bamboleo”. This song made me laugh the first time I listen to it and it still makes me laugh! It is so funny and I am glad that a great metal band like Ensiferum covered this song; it adds another flavor to their style and to the song as well.
Although this album is surely a masterpiece, I really wish that Ensiferum sang more in Finnish. There are some Finnish lyrics in “Burning Leaves” which make me shiver everytime I listen to that song but I always get the feeling that it’s not enough. Ensiferum is not to blame though; since their fanbase increased all around the world, they have surely needed to write and sing in English but I am sure that any Finnish metal fan will agree with me that Finnish lyrics add another atmosphere to songs.
All in all, I can say that this album is a masterpiece. Surely, this might not be a typical Ensiferum album so the listener might be surprised at the slight changes of style but keep in mind that “Unsung Heroes” is one of those albums that get you addicted the more you listen to it. The more you listen to the album, the more you love the songs. I also realized that my feelings when I first listened to the album and my feelings after listening to the album a couple of times are totally different. At first, I was really disappointed and surprised at how different Ensiferum sounds but after a couple of times, I have come to realize that there is a bit of experimenting and a bit of the ‘Ensiferum-that-I love’ there and this is not a bad thing after all! Although I really loved songs like “In My Sword I Trust” or “Burning Leaves”, the songs that really made me fall in love with the album are the more melodic and acoustic songs like “Celestial Bond” or “Last Breath”. Nevertheless, it is really hard for me to pick a favorite; I can’t simply distinguish between fast and technical power metal songs and soft and melodic acoustic songs.
I can truly say that Ensiferum did it again; they have managed to pull out an amazing album without changing their style too much. “Unsung Heroes” shows just how unique and diverse Ensiferum can be. Hail to the gods of Finnish metal!
Rating : 8/10
- In My Sword I Trust
- Unsung Heroes
- Burning Leaves
- Celestial Bond
- Retribution Shall Be Mine
- Star Queen (Celestial Bond pt. II)
- Last Breath
- Passion Proof Power
- Bamboleo [Bonus Track / Gypsy Kings cover]
Petri Lindroos – Vocals/Guitar
Markus Toivonen – Guitar/Vocals
Sami Hinkka – Bass/Vocals
Janne Parviainen – Drums
Emmi Silvennoinen – Keyboards/Backing vocals