Due to be released on 27 August 2012, ‘Unsung Heroes’ is the latest offering from Finnish folk-metallers Ensiferum.
This is an interesting album and one that certainly gives your ears food for thought. There are a variety of elements collected together throughout the 10 songs and at times can appears a bit fractured, but overall, I think they chose those elements well.
‘Symbols’ is the first track and is an instrumental introduction to the album. It’s beatific by nature and a really gentle start. It’s is quiet but manages to draw that feeling of excitement you hear from cinematic soundtracks when they show the cavalry of warriors is on their way over mountains as filmed from a long way off. Well, this is the image that is drawn forth in my mind when hearing it – close your eyes, listen and see if you get the same.
This swiftly changes with the onset of ‘In My Sword I Trust’ which you may well have already heard as the video for those was released a while ago. At first hearing this was one example of the odd disjointed feeling I got between tracks, but by the third/fourth time it seemed a very natural progression from ‘Symbols’. This song maintains the melodic and folk sound that you would expect but it also brings the battle sound you would expect from the song of this title. It’s fast (loving the drums) and to my mind mixes the various elements of this album together well. I love the mix of harsh vocals with a clearly sung backing in the chorus. It’s very reminiscent of Turisas if I had to pick one to compare to, as is ‘Last Breath’ (including the vocals).
The title track ‘Unsung Heroes’ slows things down with a more relaxed melodic background where the Celtic influences are more clearly heard, again with sung choruses. However, here the lead vocals are death-style throughout I have read varying reviews on Petri Lindroos’ voice, but for me I think it works perfectly with this album. True, it’s not the growliest and gruffest voice I’ve heard, but that would not work with this album as it is clear that the elements work together without one overshadowing the other. Perhaps that is the meaning behind the title ‘Unsung Heroes’.
‘Burning Leaves’ brings you right back towards the start of the album with its simplistic sounding instrumental beginning, before picking up the pace again not unlike ‘In My Sword I Trust’. So far so good then. This is however followed by ‘Celestial Bond’ which is the other disjointed aspect of this album. It is not simply that this track has female vocals but more the sheer gentle sweetness of the song, both in the melody and vocals that separates it from the previous songs. ‘Star Queen’ (Celestial bond part II) coming later in the track list is part two of this song but with male vocals. The beginning acoustic instrumental seems to tell a story, which my brain keeps thinking it should know but can’t quite remember. This is then amplified (literally) with electric guitars and the introduction of vocals. For me, the inclusion of this song completes its predecessor and helps to make sense of its placing in the track list.
‘Retribution Shall Be Mine’ and ‘Pohjola’ help to shake off all feelings of sentimentality with throbbing, incessant drum beats and harsher vocals. The former has great guitar parts and hooky bits, whereas the latter brings that battle sound back to the fore but with a bigger feel to than previously – helped by the backing vocals.
Last up is ‘Passion proof power’ which is nothing short of a stonker of a song, from the eerie, dank sounding beginning to the fact that it’s 17 minutes long. This song just keeps building and adding to itself melodically, vocally, instrumentally….. It’s a good example of all the different elements from the songs being brought under one umbrella. Like some parts of the album it can seem a bit disjointed, but if you just listen and let it flow over you you’ll find that this song, and indeed the album itself, is very, very easy to listen to indeed, as all those elements combine to make up the whole which is….well, a bloody good album!
In My Sword I Trust
Retribution shall be mine
Star queen (Celestial bond part II)
Passion proof power