Saturday, March 23, 2013

FMA Reviews: Ensiferum: Unsung Heroes

Originally reviewed here.
Ensiferum were kind of at the forefront of the whole folk metal wave of the 21st century. They took a sound that had been experimented with and twisted it and perfected it. Prior to Ensiferum breaking through there were very few bands that could be considered folk metal bands. Not to say that they were the first, but they definitely helped bring about the wave of bands that emerged in the years to come.

Folk metal has never been one of my favorite genres. I certainly enjoy some bands, but I typically do not go out of my way to seek out new bands unless they are doing something that interests me. Despite this, I have found that I generally enjoyed Ensiferum in their early days, but I have not liked much of their material after Jari Mäenpää left the band. He seemed to be the major element that drew me to Ensiferum's work. This is the first album I have heard from Ensiferum in quite awhile. Unfortunately it may be a while before I check them out again.

Folk metal is supposed to be lively and exciting. At least the type that Ensiferum plays. But most of this album comes across as somewhat boring and uninspired. There are some decent tracks on here, but it just does not move me the way that folk metal should. Many of the songs are incredibly slow and those that are faster-paced do not really add anything that Ensiferum or any of the litany of other folk metal bands have not done before, and much better I might add. It is just stale and lifeless for the most part.

All of the individual elements are basically okay. The instrumentation sounds good, the vocals are impressive, and the production is definitely slick. Ultimately it is all about the songwriting. It is just somewhat lackluster. The other problem is that it just drags on and on. Particularly final track "Passion, Proof, Power" which does not feature any of those things and changes gears three times completely before mercifully ending.

Ultimately this is just flat. There is nothing really bad about it. It just does not stand out at all. Jari left the band several years ago to form Wintersun. This seemed to have killed Ensiferum.

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