Top critical review
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Fantastic musicianship, shame about the vocals
on 30 October 2007
I wasn't sure whether to give the 4 or 3, lets say its 3.5
I really didn't expect Ensiferum to come up with the goods on this one after suberb vocalist and guitar-god Jari left, only to be replaced by the guy from kings of mundane melodeath Norther. But i was really surprised that, musically, this is top-notch, full on epic folk metal from the Ensiferum we all know and love... its just that vocally this is a dissapointment
So lets get it over with first, Petri does his best to scream and gnarl his way through the album, but he has a much weaker voice then Jari. But the music and guitars are powerful enough to carry the songs through. the real problem is the absence of Jari's soaring clean vocals and 'one man choirs'. While the others do their best, the clean vocals sound flat and uninspired. Jari was also the main solo player in the band, and his sweep picking and masterful tapping are sorely missed (the few solo's on here are pretty bad)
But on the other hand this is a fantastically written and performed cd. Ensiferum have gone hell for leather with the folk influences (bag pipes anyone?) while keeping the metal intact. 'Blood is the price of Glory' thunders out after a breif intro and kicks off with a bang proving that, muically and instrumentally speaking, the band are still on high form. Very much in the vein of previous works, it has that wonderful combination of thrashing rythm and soaring leads over the top that Ensiferum do so well and when combined with the anthemic shout along chorus its a real winner. 'Death bringer from the Sky' is another fave with a bit more of an 80s power metal feel and some full on cheesy melodic choruses. I just love it when it all breaks down for some Viking 'whoa whoa' chants; very atmospheric. But while the first two tracks don't really break any new ground for the band 'Ahti' and 'one more magic potion' show a bit more of a cheerful folkish (very similiar to Fintroll) vibe. 'Ahti' is a great song which playfully switches between Petri's screams and some deathy growls (points for them!) and, believe it or not, full on banjo playing while 'one more magic potion' is simply amazing and sees them taking their folk influences to the limit. Token ballad 'wanderer' is also pretty good; it has a great vintage maiden feel as it trucks along, although to be honest it would sound alot better with a different vocalist with more of a range and passioned delivery. I dunno what version of the song the guy in the review below has been listening to, but there's no screaming in this song . Finally, 'victory songs' ends the album fantastically. Starting with some choirs and the sounds of hoaves galloping and then slowly builds up into a lenghty epic that could easily be a soundtrack to a fantasy film. I really wasn't expecting anything as grandiose as this from the band. Killer track.
You're probably thinking why only three stars for such a long review? well, I hate to say it but the lack of Jari has seriously effected the impact of the band for me, kinda like when Blaze Baily sang for Maiden. Musically they really stepped up their game and pushed their boundaries a little, but the lack of some serious black metal screams, competant clean vocals and good solo's make this a 3 rather then a 4. But thats not to say i didn't really enjoy listening to this album, i did! Musically this is awesome! i admit i am very picky with vocalists
I do recommmend this, but not over 'Ensfierum'. It may be better then Iron though. if you can cope with Petri and co on vocals you'll find that this is a great CD.
Ensiferum fans might also want to check out Suidakra, Thyrfing, Arkona, Finntroll, Manegarm, Wolf Chant, Heol Telwen, Forefather, Falchion, Equilibrium, Nomans Land, Hammer Horde, Moonsorrow, Svartsot or Waylander.