Rating:
8.5
Ensiferum - Unsung Heroes
24 August 2012


Disc I
01. Symbols
02. In My Sword I Trust
03. Unsung Heroes
04. Burning Leaves
05. Celestial Bond
06. Retribution Shall Be Mine
07. Star Queen (Celestial Bond Part II)
08. Pohjola
09. Last Breath
10. Passion, Proof, Power
11. Bamboleo [Gipsy Kings cover] [deluxe edition bonus]

Disc II [DVD] [deluxe edition bonus]
+ From Symbols To Passion: The Making Of Unsung Heroes
+ Studio Diary: Week 1-7


I, like most Ensiferum fans, was rather disappointed upon initially hearing the band's 2012 effort Unsung Heroes. The album's pacing was much slower than the much-heralded From Afar, the atmosphere rather mellow in comparison to their other works and the sense of composition more subdued and subtle. As most metal listeners know, the first few listens of an album can be deceiving; I mean, after all, how many of us truly wrapped our heads around Opeth's Blackwater Park the first time we listened to it? I don't mind spending some time with the albums I have at my disposal and giving Unsung Heroes a number of listens has proven to be one of the greatest rewards this habit has given me as of late. Unsung Heroes is, for all intents and purposes, quite unsung (no pun intended, of course).

I suppose a good way to summarize this album's aesthetic is to compare it to a time of day. The dusk-veiled, star-shrouded cover artwork (that is absolutely incredible, by the way) represents exactly where this album will take you: to the calm, tranquil, nightly beauty of a mid-summer dusk. From Afar was like the raging and roaring day whilst Unsung Heroes is that which naturally follows. As a result of this one is presented with an album that resonates more like glowing embers than a raging fire. Once the listener accepts this fact he or she is more likely to appreciate and absorb the beauty that is Unsung Heroes.

As for the songs, well, they're all highlights in my opinion, with the album's opening cut "In My Sword I Trust" being perhaps the weakest (and safest) song featured here. The album's title-track is a beautiful, stoic hymn praising the heroes of old that is one of the most vast and "open" compositions Ensiferum have penned yet. By "open" I mean that there is room in the song for the listener to inject his or her own interpretations and reflections into the listening experience without feeling like they're barraged by a multitude of sounds. Compare it in contrast to something like Wintersun, for example, that is chock full of layers and layers of sound that demands the listener's attention instead of their reflection. The two "Celestial Bond" tracks are wonderful, folky pieces that have an aura of serenity and yearning about them. As for the album's epic - "Passion, Proof, Power" - we're given a feast of progressive folk metal goodness that undoubtedly requires a number of listens to fully grasp and admire; I assure you, however, that the journey is well worth it!

Structurally Unsung Heroes is put together with the utmost care. The album's flow feels very natural, being neither too top-heavy or bottom-heavy. Unsung Heroes starts with a blaze of energy then settles into the night-time air, is given another breath of vigorous life with the traditional but inspired "Retribution Shall Be Mine" whilst the rest of the album that follows showcases a very folky and progressive side of Ensiferum that we've yet to hear so refined until now.

Ultimately Unsung Heroes tests the saying "patience is a virtue" as one is unlikely to appreciate or even enjoy this album on the first few listens. Believe me, I was there with nearly everyone else when this album was first unleashed, thinking it was a huge disappointment and all of that. The passing of time, numerous listens and a change in perspective have served me valiantly, however, and I can only hope that at least a few of you will follow in these footsteps. If you're in the mood for a raging battle in musical form then Unsung Heroes won't slake your thirst but when you're ready to sit next to a campfire after the din then Unsung Heroes will serve you faithfully well, no doubt. All-in-all there is a wonderful album to be discovered amidst the celestial depths of Unsung Heroes that will give back exactly what the listener puts into it. Highly recommended!

Performance: 8
Songwriting: 10
Originality: 8
Production: 9


Band profile: Ensiferum
Album: Unsung Heroes


 


written by bloodyrenn | 09.08.2013


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

Staff review by
Baz Anderson

Rating:
5.0
It looks like Ensiferum, it sounds like Ensiferum, but is this actually Ensiferum?

Read more ››
published 27.08.2012 | Comments (64)



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Zaphod - 09.08.2013 at 14:16  
I was only slightly disappointed upon my first listen of this album. My opinion never changed though, I don't think it's a hard album to get into at all, it just isn't as good as their other releases. That being said, I still enjoyed this one.
rdhelli@gmail.com - 09.08.2013 at 14:40  
I'll give it more spins then, as I would be pleased to be at your place feeling about this!
bloodwrage - 10.08.2013 at 04:22  
I've gone back and given it a chance. it doesn't deserve an 8.5. I would actually put it lower than what I initially had it.
AngelofDeth - 10.08.2013 at 07:37  
Very well written review!

I too was disappointed at its release and haven't touched it with a ten foot pole since, but the way you wrote this made me want to give it another shot...
bloodyrenn - 10.08.2013 at 16:12  
Thanks for the feedback guys! I am glad I ended up giving the album more time of day than I had initially anticipated to since it has paid off handsomely. While not as good as the self-titled or From Afar, Unsung Heroes is a nice and rather unique addition to the Ensiferum discography that will hopefully get more positive recognition in the years to come.
Magere Tijn - 07.02.2014 at 12:40  
Definitely deserves far more credit than it's receiving now. Not their best album, but still very enjoyable, catchy and just right.

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