Ensiferum - Ensiferum
Spinefarm Records
Melodic Epic Blackened Metal
12 songs (55'08")
Release year: 2001
Ensiferum, Spinefarm Records
Reviewed by Alex
Archive review

Being associated with Metalreviews.com has definitely been a two-way street for me. On one hand I am happy to share with the fans my opinion on some albums I was lucky to hear (and recommend) first. On the other, those fans will tell me “So, why haven’t you reviewed THIS? It is the best thing since sliced bread!” Well, sometimes I haven’t heard THIS yet, but I am more than happy to follow our fans’ recommendation. With this foreword, by popular demand, I present you Ensiferum’s self-titled debut. Thanks go out to all of you who made me search for and obtain this album. Those of you who haven’t done it yet, start looking as soon as you are finished reading my review.

I have to admit I am a sucker to a cool sounding name. The more syllables the better. In this regard how can you beat Ruotsalainen or Puolakanaho? This could be the sole reason I have been quietly rooting for Finnish hockey teams while growing up in Kiev, Ukraine. My colleague Jay has tried to give you a lesson in Finnish wordmaking a few weeks ago. I wouldn’t go that far, but I will say this. As difficult as it sounds, the end result is cool. As a kid I traveled to Karelia, a borderland between Finland and Northern Russia. I still remember trying to pronounce some of those Finnish road signs. Now, what does this have to do with Ensiferum? To me this band embodies Finnish sound.

Many epithets can be put together to describe the sound of Ensiferum. Melodic, epic, folky, medieval, anguished, speedy, powerful. And all together – simply Finnish. You get this feeling from the opening seconds of acoustic string laden and keyboard dominated Intro. I simply get a sensation of being in a broad vast land full of pride and tradition. As I am sitting there dreaming Hero in a Dream roars in with its frantic and speedy riffs, raspy blackened voice and epic clean chorus. As my jaw is still somewhere on the floor Token of Time lays flute and string arrangements over humppa influenced chords. Almost playful, but no less intense, Guardians of Fate follows up with another bombastic chorus of clean vocals. Two-part, mid-tempo Vainamoinen is the first moment where I caught my breath only to enjoy the epic blackness of these two songs alternately driven by blast beats and double bass with an interesting dreamy keyboard sound. “Trees swaying in the wind” melody reminded me of Amorphis’ Tuonela. Abandoned has everything I want in an epic powerful tune. There is this beautiful opening melody, bigger than world keyboard (or is it accordion?) sound, anguished lead vocals being drowned by the powerful epic chorus singing. Windrider is an all-out gallop on the back of a steed breaking only for a quick trip through the folk melody of the enchanted forest.

I could go on and on describing the album song by song. But you already got a feeling I was blown away. Jari Maenpaa (vocals, guitar), Jukka-Pekka Miettinen (bass), Markus Toivonen (guitar), Oliver Fokin (drums), Meiju Enho (keyboards) have created a masterpiece in my opinion.

I am sure that while listening to Ensiferum you will be reminded of a number of bands. I was constantly making comparisons. Ensiferum is not as guitar oriented and intricate as Children of Bodom, not as thrashy or blackened as Kalmah, not as gothic as Eternal Tears of Sorrow, not as folky as Finntroll, not as epic as Moonsorrow. Yet, they combine all those elements into one package that is extremely attractive. This is modern blackened epic Finnish metal on amphetamines, sung in English.

I heard that the band experienced trouble recording and mixing the album. Yes, the production could be cleaner, and drum sound could be bigger – all very minor problems. I also heard that their second album was delayed as well. As long as it as good as the debut, it will be worth the wait. All hail Ensiferum!

Killing Songs :
All of them!
Alex quoted 92 / 100
Crims quoted 98 / 100
Jay quoted 85 / 100
Aleksie quoted 82 / 100
Other albums by Ensiferum that we have reviewed:
Ensiferum - One Man Army reviewed by Andy and quoted 76 / 100
Ensiferum - Unsung Heroes reviewed by Chris and quoted 59 / 100
Ensiferum - From Afar reviewed by Kyle and quoted 94 / 100
Ensiferum - Victory Songs reviewed by Cody and quoted 85 / 100
Ensiferum - Dragonheads (EP) reviewed by Kayla and quoted no quote
To see all 7 reviews click here
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