Ensiferum – Unsung Heroes

Unsung Heroes
Released: 27th August 2012
Heroic Metal/Folk Metal
Released via Spinefarm Records

Ensiferum are one of the most renowned metal bands to hail from Finland. Unsung Heroes, the fifth album from the Finnish metallers and produced by Hiili Hiilesmaa, is described as a “cinematic experience”. Since their first album, the band’s musical ambition and vision has gone strength to strength with each new release.

Symbols is the first track of the album, setting the mood with a delicate orchestrated piece. The track is one of those that sends a chill down the spine, containing a subtle majestic feel that calls forth an epic atmosphere without dulling the mood that is created. As the track comes to its end, In My Sword I Trust begins, which screams out with a typical Ensiferum sound. The riffs are heroically played, swaying back and forth alongside the drums and keyboards, making for a sagaic sound while the vocals gallantly join the fray. The lyrics paint quite the mythic image that adds emphasis to the music.

Unsung Heroes, the title track, summons forth a fearless new sound blending soothing keyboards with the howling vocals and guitars. The slower pace of the song builds up the Hollywood-like sound, blending with the unflinching sound of the guitars and vocals. Burning Leaves, a song I’m sure a lot of Ensiferum fans are no accustomed with, begins with a folky section before the heavier sections kick into action like axe-wielding warriors at the beginning of a battle. The folkier sounds of the song dance gracefully and handsomely with the other elements of the track. The vocals sound almost romantically performed, keeping true to the traditional Ensiferum sound.

The poetically titled Celestial Bond begins with an alluring use of vocals that takes me back to when I first heard the final track of Iron. The music is almost fairy tale-like in its performance, painting an enchanting aura. Retribution Shall Be Mine shakes up the album a bit, screeching forth with fast paced drumming and manic guitar playing. The vocals are beyond bloodthirsty, screaming like a berserker seeking a worthy opponent. Retribution Shall Be Mine is definitely one of those songs that would make for a great mosh pit anthem.

Star Queen, which is part two of Celestial Bond, follows in the same soothing vein of Celestial Bond, even during in the heavier sections. The keyboards weave through the song majestically and seductively, creating the grandiose sound that any Ensiferum fan is accustomed to. Pohjola switches between sounds rather interestingly, combining through its entirety a use of dark sounds and dramatic choirs along with the abounding epic riffs and a use of spoken word in what I believe to be Finnish. The breezeless soundings of Last Breath follow soon after, bringing with it a gloomy yet heroic mood. The careful balance of vocals and acoustic guitars with the subtle orchestration creates a typically folky-yet-Ensiferum sound.

And so the saga that is Unsung Heroes comes to its final chapter; the 16 plus minute epic Passion Proof Power. The cawing of ravens and various other sounds of nature ring out at the beginning before the song marches into a horde of heavy guitars and pounding drums, with the cinematic orchestration that gently weaves its way into the song. As the track progresses, the vocals are introduced, strengthening the song. The keyboards offer up nibbles of folk elements as well, giving Passion Proof Power that true Ensiferum sound. The track displays a use of darker sounds and awe-inspiring female vocals, that are – and I hate to say it – almost gothic.

The use of harsher us of vocals make Passion Proof Power sound more callous and barbaric and the keyboard solo brings about a very power metal feel. Other elements from previous tracks make an appearance as well including the spoken word. The second half of the track contains the heavily thespian side of Ensiferum’s music, especially with the combined use of harsher and female vocals and a very august sound ringing from the guitars. However, fortunately for those who can’t stand too much of a dramatic sound in their metal, the other half also displays the raw powerful sound of Ensiferum’s music as well.

When a band tries to balance a cinematic experience with a powerful metal sound, they usually fail as a rule. Ensiferum, on the other other hand, have managed to perfectly balance the two together and still throw in some extra elements for good measure. Unsung Heroes really does show how far the band’s sound has come and developed over the years and is a clear indicator that Ensiferum are at the top of their game.


Nico Davidson

2 Responses to “Ensiferum – Unsung Heroes”

  1. Excellent review. You should post this on the Metal-Archives to help counteract a lot of the douchebaggery going on over there. I know MA is pretty much a shit hole and I shouldn’t let the meaningless scores on there annoy me, but they do. Haha

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