Chuck Schuldiner Project

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ensiferum-Unsung Heroes
So, I believe that I have found the Two Guys Metal Reviews album of the year. Ensiferum's new record Victory Songs is a crushing slab of folk metal that proves these guys still have got it. In fact, this may even be my new favorite Ensiferum record. With all of the elements that make this band so great I can't stop listening to the crushing riffs, solid rhythm, beautiful melodies, and awesome singing that makes this band so cool. For me Ensiferum is and always shall be THE folk metal band, and here they prove it yet again. Ensiferum has made the album that I impatiently waited three years for and this album has rocked my world. With all of the elements of a good folk metal record this band does not fail to impress and has showed some impressive advances from their last album. In particular the guitar parts have really evolved.

With some more guitar centric melodies than on the previous record Ensiferum continues to find new avenues to expand their music down. The song Burning Leaves with its powerful guitar harmonies is a classic example of something that would not have been seen on an older Ensiferum record. Yet it fits into the bands overall sound and is truly awesome. However the overall style of riffing is the same, and that is a very good thing. This means that you can truly just headbang your heart out to some of the truly awesome playing on this album. At the same time Ensiferum has been sure to guard their acoustic side with lots of slowed down quieter parts that features some of the awesome folk metal chanting that this band helped popularize. Finally, I'd just like to say that the solos are absolutely stellar (as always) Lindroos and Toivonen have really outdone themselves this time to say the least.

The bass work on this album is fairly solid and features some really cool playing on some of the heavier songs. Hinkka has always had some cool fills in the Ensiferum records and this album is no exception. We really get to hear all the magic and brutality in his playing, I really like how his bass is mixed on this record. As a final note I feel like his playing has achieved a new level of violence in tracks like Retribution where his vicious bass leads the charge into Valhalla. The drumming on this record is also rather excellent, with a brilliant combination of folk elements as well as more metal playing Parviainen once again proves his drumming prowess. His double bass attack has not slowed down and he still can blast out wonderfully fast rhythms. He exudes energy and truly captures the atmosphere of the band. He is a highlight on his very own.

Emmi Silvenoinnen's keyboard playing is beautiful and adds a lot of different elements to the sound. Her playing can be atmospheric and make the music seem epic, or it can be more melodic and provide a major folk element. She adds a lot of power to the music and it feels like she has orchestras at her fingertips. Her folkier playing adds a lot of flavor to the music as well, it makes things feel older and more powerful, it takes you back to an ancient time when true men roamed the earth and the gods were alive and well. Her playing is a testament to how might folk metal can be and she really just makes this album a glorious testament to the greatness of the genre.

Finally we have the vocals, I have always liked Ensiferum for their combination of death growls with more choral elements and this album just continues the line. The growls are brutal as always and filled with a wonderful viking energy that drives the album to new vistas of glory. The mix on this album seems to be a bit more lively than on previous releases and the growls really get to shine more than ever before. Meanwhile, the choral parts are back in force with a huge viking choir adding strength to the track Retribution Shall be Mine. They add a lot of flavor to Ensiferum's music. In addition the clean vocals are also stellar. The male cleans really shine, especially on Star Queen, which is the only track on the album to feature only male cleans. Silvenoinnen's voice is also truly beautiful and really shines on her song Celestial Bond. If anything she has improved from her singing on the last record. Overall, this album is a vocal triumph and has a bit of everything.

In conclusion, the new Ensiferum record is possibly their best ever. It is filled with all sort of wonderful songs and you can't help but sing a long. This album shows how far these guys have advanced from their demo days. This is a polished effort filled with crashing guitars and soaring operatic vocals. Speedy drums and epic keyboard arrangements. This album has something for everyone and shows odd the pure beauty and majesty of this genre of music. You MUST go listen to this album, it is very easily the greatest heavy metal record of the year, and possibly even the decade.


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