Release Date: 10th July 2020
Record Label: Metal Blade Records
I’ve been a fan of Ensiferum for a long time now, in fact one of my very first (if not THE first) review I did was Two Paths WAY back in 2017. I hope I’ve improved my writing skills by now! Ensiferum had release 2 singles from Thalassic before the release, and I had really enjoyed what I heard, so I was excited to hear what the rest of the album had to offer.
Seafarer’s Dream is an instrumental track which introduces this latest release to us, with waves and wind. It’s a slow acoustic build up, with some tension from brass and strings.
The first full track is the first single from the album; Rum, Women, Victory. When I first heard the track, it reminded me of the older Ensiferum with the fast paced and good mix of clean and harsh vocals. Hearing a lot of clean male vocals works really well with the sound. There’s the right mix of headbanging, dancing, and drinking time in this track. It’s an anthem to get your blood pumping with a great shout of “Rum! Women! Victory!”.
The second single released pre-album, Andromeda, is next on the album, which has a much mellower feel, but still a great pace to headbang to. On the single release, it was one that got stuck in my head straight away. Off the bat we have two really catchy tracks which leaves high expectation for the rest of the album. The Defence of the Sampo is another track which seems to harken back to the older Ensiferums days instrumentally, but the clean vocals take a front seat. I’ll be honest here, it doesn’t capture me straight away, but it could be a grower. The track picks up towards the end after an interlude, and it’s catchier, so I think I could learn to love this track.
Run From The Crushing Tide immediately kicks in with the traditional fast drums and guitar of Ensiferum, along with a nice gallop before the vocals kick in. This is definitely another catchy one I’ll be headbanging along to in my room and as I bounce around the house doing chores. The vocals are primarily harsh, but the clean vocals take on the bridge, and participate in the chorus. Personally, for me the harsh vocals suit the faster tracks a lot more in Ensiferum’s music.
We slow down again For Sirens. The contrast between the clean and harsh vocals work better for this track in my opinion with the slower pace. Again, I feel like this will be another grower for me.
There’s a very slow start with ambient noise and strings for One with the Sea, it does sound like a true sea-faring song. When the main instruments kick in, it’s a slow, heavy track prime for headbanging. However, in the instrumentals, it becomes a beautiful, acoustic feeling track with clean vocals and strings taking the lead in the instrumental. It feels like this could be the ballad of the album. It’s definitely a “light source in the air” track when it’s played live in front of an audience.
Midsummer Magic has a traditional feel of being at a tavern and having a celebration with more traditional instruments, and the party becomes a big one when the main instruments kick in. I think this is going to be the track I love the most of the album. The tempo and rhythm is perfect for a dance around and a drink. I need my drinking horn full of mead and a good old singalong to this. Sadly though, as with all these songs, it’s far too short for my liking!
Waves crashing on the shore, and piano, introduce Cold Northland (Väinämöinen Part III), which soon turns into a folk and fantasy epic feeling track with the use of an orchestra on top of the main instruments. It’s a catchy riff , with harsh vocals over the top. I feel like I need to go on an epic quest across forests and mountains (in my quite lovely LARP cloak) to lands unknown. We have a change in the feel of the track, with blast beats, and more majestic and trimphant instrumentals. The initial riff comes back in with the heavier drums and under the vocals, and I am thoroughly enjoying this track.
After Two Paths, which I thought deviated a little from their older sound a little, I feel like this is the return of Ensiferum that I was looking for. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable album, and while not every song grabbed me straight away, I feel like with another few listens, they will also be firm favourites. The album flowed really well, and I have a feeling that this will be one of my favourite releases of 2020.
Buy Ensiferum music and merch: https://www.backstagerockshop.com/collections/ensiferum
Listen to Ensiferum on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/0krXCIkthz13P8o0v2tksH
Follow Ensiferum on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Ensiferum/
Ensiferum website: https://ensiferum.com/
Metal Blade Records website: https://www.metalblade.com/us/