Ensiferum
From Afar

With 2007s Victory Songs, Ensiferum laid to rest any worries if Norther’s Petri Lindross could replace Jari Mäenpää who left to form Wintersun. From Afar not only cements Lindross as a competent replacement with serviceable blackened rasps and guitar playing, it also shows that new keyboardist (and female vocalist) Emmi Silvennoinen is a fantastic addition to the band’s already epic sound. Epic you say? Well there’s epic, and then there’s Ensiferum.

Of Finland’s gamut of bouncy folk and black metal infused power metal (Turisas, Falchion, Wintersun, Korpiklaani, Finntroll, early Moonsorrow, etc), Ensiferum are arguably the most epic and on From Afar, the ante for epic, keyboard drenched, grin inducing cheese filled metal has one again been raised. As well as the bands perfectly tempered, high octane, rousing metal, the addiction of Silvennoinen’s more prominent and orchestral synths (which are a little less folky and ethnic and more movie score) as well as her well placed, ethereal clean vocals, From Afar takes epic to whole new levels of guilty pleasure.

After intro “By the Dividing Stream” look no further than the stunning title track for  simply giddy levels of pure epic, with a simply amazing choral chorus that gives me goosebumps upon every listen. From there on the album just oozes majesty and simply rollicking metal that should make the most ardent, stern death metal head want to paint his or her face blue and fight stuff.

From the aforementioned title track to the two vast, more restrained, 10 plus minute tracks,”Heathen Throne” and “The Longest Journey (Heathen Throne Part II)” (both with typically rousing segments) and the typically energetic, bouncy numbers in between (“Twilight Tavern”, “Elusive Reaches”, Smoking Ruins”), From Afar simply personifies epic and the ability the Fins have to make epic, metal and cheese blend together so perfectly and enjoyably. Of note is “Stone Cold Steel”, a slight departure from the band’s typical sound with a Wild West/Ennio Morricone tangent (an element Ensiferum flirted with on Iron’s title track and “Ferrum Aeternum”, complete with banjo, trumpet and ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ styled whistling) – that has to be heard to be appreciated.

The whole album is wrapped in polish and confidence that the Fins seem to be able to do in their sleep making From Afar an enjoyable, easy listen that simply amuses and enthralls all at once.

Top 10 material for sure.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
September 9th, 2009

Comments

  1. Commented by: shane

    Dude in Decibel gave this a 3 out of 10. WTF? I’ve seen nothing but great things about this record. Ensiferum rocks!!!


  2. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    Did Chris D review it? – he loathes this kind of stuff


  3. Commented by: ceno

    Absolutely amazing album. Their best I think. That banjo solo is soooo fitting. Great review too.


  4. Commented by: Shane

    No, sure wasn’t Chris. Everyone has an opinion I guess, but that was a harsh review I thought.


  5. Commented by: Dan

    They gave Winds of Plague a 7/10 in the same issue. I guess they have a wide variety of critics. It was a little shocking to see such a widely appreciated band (one that had graced Decibel’s cover a month or two before, no less) get such a low score, but at the same time, I respect the magazine for publishing such a review. I think it shows a great deal of integrity. Do you think a cum-rag magazine like Revolver would ever give JFaC or Suicide Silence a low score? Not a chance. Not while they’re putting them on the cover every other month and touting them as the future of metal. I applaud Decibel for not deepthroating a band (critically, that is) just because they were popular or were featured earlier.


  6. Commented by: Chevalier Mal Fet

    Great review Erik, I’m psyched to see them in a couple months. I’m not sure how I am feeling about the album yet, I am a Johnny-Come-Lately on this band who loved Victory Songs and so far this is not measuring up, but repeated spins might change my mind.


  7. Commented by: Blackwater Park

    Who cares about Decibel. That magazine is a fucking joke. Metal wrapped in a slick corporate package can fuck off. The new Ensiferum is bad ass. Not Top 10 material to me, but certainly in my Top 20 of the year.


  8. Commented by: Chris S.

    Another kick ass album by these guys. It has made some longs days in the office a little more fun.


  9. Commented by: Storm King

    First off, love this album big time. Given my love for this sort of epic music, I have no idea how I overlooked Ensiferum for so long. It’s everything I loved about early Moonsorrow, without everything becoming 30 minutes long. (Really, only Moonsorrow can get away with that, in my opinion.)

    As for Decibel…sometimes it seems like a good straight up metal magazine, and then sometimes-their year end top 40, the occasionally odd choices for their Hall of Fame-it’s like they’re just pushing things they like, and to hell with objectivity. Still better than Revolver, though.


  10. Commented by: fightingmike

    I am diggin this record! Not as good as Iron, but more epic and orchestral than Victory Songs. It sounds like touring with Turisas has rubbed off on them with all of the epic orchestration added on here. I can’t wait for the new Wintersun and Turisas too!


  11. Commented by: JustinH

    Great review, although you called it “Stone Cold Steel”, rather it’s “Stone Cold Metal”. Great album, I enjoyed it a bit more than Victory Songs.


  12. Commented by: Blog › Teeth of the Divine Staff Picks of 2009 › Teeth of the Divine

    […] 7. Ensiferum – From Afar […]


  13. Commented by: Old Pick Axe

    I really dig these guys. It’s like they ate the death metal heart that Amorphis abandoned…and absorbed their powers. Long live Ensiferum!


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