Ensiferum - Iron
Spinefarm Records
Blackened Melodic Viking Metal
10 songs (42:37)
Release year: 2004
Ensiferum, Spinefarm Records
Reviewed by Jason
Album of the year

Ladies and gents: brace yourself, because the sword-bearing Finns that call themselves Ensifeum are back with their second mind blowing release and will surely compel anyone to crack open another beer, thrash in the pit, and sing along to those catchy but destructive hymns. But before I continue with this review, I have a confession to make. I’m sure that all of you have been addicted to something at some point of your lives whether it be cigarettes, sex, buying music, or watching Trading Spaces (don’t lie… you know you love it). So this is my confession: I can’t take this album out of my CD player. Before hearing “Iron”, I sadly hadn’t heard anything by Ensiferum, but in the short span of 2 weeks now, I’ve made up by alternating between both albums non-stop. I’m fairly convinced that every member of my suburban town can now hum to “Guardians of Fate” as I drive by with my car stereo up at maximum and say “Ah… here come that crazy metalhead again with that weird rock music of his” . Many of you will be quick to point out that it’s not a big deal, and that with some group therapy and some light sedatives I’ll be able to remove it from my CD player and go on living a normal life. I know, but its going to be hard though; I can’t picture myself at a traffic light and NOT fulfill my obligation of drowning the 50 Cent coming out of the neighboring car with some blackened Viking metal. Haha… enough exaggerated banter… on with the Review.

This album is hot, and by hot I mean nuclear. For those of you who haven’t heard anything by Ensiferum, their music can be described as Blackened Viking Metal that, as Alex quoted magnificently in his review of the self-titled album, “…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”, but fabulously uses elements synonymous to their counterparts and twists them to make their own killer sound.

Those critical of the sub-par production on the last release have one less thing to fret about as the sound quality is A-1. Everything sounds incredibly tight, whether it is the echoing background vocals, the incredible folkish interludes, or the subtle nature sounds in “LAI LAI HEI”. It would be unfair to single-out an aspect of the music and say that it is responsible for the tightness, because EVERYTHING is incredibly tight. Oliver Fokin’s passes on the drums are surgically precise, the solo’s are smooth and “on the nose”, and female keyboardist Meiju Enho’s synth-work provides an awesome ambient-like background for this piece of Viking mastery.

Though I would love to write elaborate descriptions on the richness and variation of each song, I’m going to have to refrain and let you be as surprised as I was when I first heard this album… but I guess a few elaborations won’t hurt.

If I were Quentin Tarantino, the opener to this album titled “Ferrum Aeternum” (which means eternal sword… I think) would have undoubtedly been included on one of the Kill Bill soundtracks. Not only because does it deal with swords, but this fantastic instrumental interlude has a folkish flavor that borders something that you would hear out of a western film. I’m sure that Quentin would agree. The album then follows its predecessor by culminating the intro and blasting the listeners’ ears with next track “Iron”, which features a plethora palmed riffs galloping at breakneck speeds, and blisteringly fast drums.

What can be said about “Sword Chant”?: amazing. This is perhaps the most original track on the album as it begins with an instrumental interlude that turns into what I can best described as either a medieval song or chant, but with a faster tempo, a mix of clear and black vocals, and modern day instruments. When listening to this song its hard not to picture a bunch of rowdy Vikings bearing a mug of beer in one hand and a sword in the other dancing and chanting together with “Hey! Hey! Hey!”’s. Jari Maenpaa’s vocals on this tune are at their best with their smooth but raspy sound. It’s very unfortunate that Jari is no-longer in the band, I’ll surely miss that distinct rasp of his on future releases.

This is where my elaborate description ends and your responsibility in getting this album comes into effect. Be it by train, bus, metro, skateboard, airplane, bike, foot or whatever, you will buy this album. There is no reason why you shouldn’t purchase this album: Great production, fantastic musicianship, original sound, and that album cover…what an awesome album cover. Definitely something on this release for ALL metalheads. For those of you graced by living in Aleksie’s homeland, you can pick this up anytime, but as for the rest of you, May 17th is the day that you will drop everything and make this worthwhile purchase.

Killing Songs :
!!! Every Damn Second of it!!!
Jason quoted 96 / 100
Aleksie quoted 93 / 100
Chris quoted 92 / 100
Other albums by Ensiferum that we have reviewed:
Ensiferum - Thalassic reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
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
To see all 8 reviews click here
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