Ensiferum - One Man Army review



Reviewer:
8.1

332 users:
7.80
Band: Ensiferum
Album: One Man Army
Release date: February 2015


01. March Of War
02. Axe Of Judgment
03. Heathen Horde
04. One Man Army
05. Burden Of The Fallen
06. Warrior Without A War
07. Cry For The Earth Bounds
08. Two Of Spades
09. My Ancestor's Blood
10. Descendants, Defiance, Domination
11. Neito Pohjolan
12. Rawhide [Ned Washington cover] [digipak & vinyl bonus]
13. Warmetal [Barathrum cover] [digipak & vinyl bonus]
14. Candour And Lies [digipak & vinyl bonus]
15. Bonus Song [digipak & vinyl bonus]


We all know how Unsung Heroes turned out (probably best left… unsung). Such a reception always creates a great deal of apprehension over the successor. Now, I don't want to become embroiled in a hype war and claim irresponsibly that Ensiferum really put their noses to the grindstone and hit one out of the park… but let's just say that One Man Army shows a marked improvement.

It seems that Ensiferum must have read Baz's Unsung Heroes review, because if there's one thing this album has, it's energy. It's hard not to get immediately swept up in the excitement exploding out of "Axe Of Judgement," and the following tracks demonstrate how the band stepped back and refocused themselves after the lukewarm performance and reception of Unsung Heroes. It's livelier, hardier, and more collected; minus a few calmer interludes, it has a great deal more spirit and passion. I often feel as though I'm listening to From Afar again, especially during such distinctly Ensiferum-like tunes as "Heathen Horde" and "My Ancestors' Blood."

Keep in mind that neither was Unsung Heroes so terrible nor is this so glorious that One Man Army should be hailed as some manner of magnificent comeback or salvation of Ensiferum. They weren't "gone" that long, and the content here generally suggests that the sound Ensiferum is farming could use some rejuvenation or innovation pretty soon; even if this is an improvement, it seems to tell of a general decline on the books, and the band could use some new inspirations. The middle of the album begins to sound suspiciously like filler, and it could do with a few more strong hooks and massive choruses.

Of course, I don't mean to dampen the joy of another quality Ensiferum release. Attempting to argue with the bold-faced power of "Axe Of Judgement," the ripping good fun of "Two Of Spades," or the magnificent, classically epic beauty of "Descendants, Defiance, Domination" would be an exercise in futility. A good album is a good album, regardless of what it says about a band's potential future, and One Man Army is a good album. It will doubtlessly satisfy any fans who have nursed reservations for the last few years.

One Man Army is also a challenging album - partly bold attention-grabbers that later regress into satisfying filler, partly initially solid tracks that creep up in quality with repeated exposure. It trumps Unsung Heroes to be sure, not only in terms of songwriting and energy, but as an Ensiferum album; it's no Iron, and I think we'd all like to see the resurgence of more widespread folk elements in their sound, but it's certainly at least in the vein of From Afar.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 6
Production: 8


 



Written on 10.02.2015 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments

Comments: 27   Visited by: 498 users
10.02.2015 - 21:50
barnesy
Whew (wiping sweat off my forehead). Thank God!
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10.02.2015 - 21:59
Sentenced Odiin
gothic.moorion@gmail.com
From Afar was pretty decent for me, let's hope this guy is right.
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10.02.2015 - 22:01
WinterMadness
I was hoping they'd return to From Afar levels of quality and sound, but I don't think they'll ever get back to what they had on the first two albums. At this point I'm sick of waiting for Jari to pull his head out of his ass with Time II, I just wish he was still with Ensiferum. They're just bland generic every-folk-metal-band-on-youtube quality stuff without his vocals, guitars, and writing.
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10.02.2015 - 22:15
flightoficarus
Stamp Tramp
Sounds like a fair and balanced review. You've managed to make me just slightly more excited to hear this.
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11.02.2015 - 01:53
moe5512
From Afar is my favorite so let's hope One Man Army is some what on the same level
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11.02.2015 - 04:44
marshalldml
OK,hope it's true,time to order that boxset...
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11.02.2015 - 08:47
Windrider
Raureif
Summed up nicely. Now I'm curious.
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11.02.2015 - 09:41
Warman
Erotic Stains
"From Afar" was excellent, so my hopes are a little higher now.
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11.02.2015 - 10:08
Sword_Chant
At least they've improved upon the last album... would be nice if they made an album that matches the first two albums, but better not get too greedy.
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11.02.2015 - 15:51
AssailantForce
I agree with most others here. From Afar was just kick-ass. But the title track One Man Army was plain dull although just as this review suggests it has the From Afar like power metal intensity. Hopefully the record is not as dissapointing as the title track, but that doesn't sound like a safe bet.
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12.02.2015 - 05:19
Windir
Two songs and no solos it sucks so far
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12.02.2015 - 05:29
moe5512
Written by Windir on 12.02.2015 at 05:19

Two songs and no solos it sucks so far

Because solos is the only thing that makes a song good? Besides one man army has a (excuse of a) solo
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12.02.2015 - 05:47
Windir
Written by moe5512 on 12.02.2015 at 05:29

Written by Windir on 12.02.2015 at 05:19

Two songs and no solos it sucks so far

Because solos is the only thing that makes a song good? Besides one man army has a (excuse of a) solo

'cause solos were an ensiferum trademark... and nope, that lead guitar melody on the title track was just that: a melody. A song without solos? I don't care coming from summoning or samael, but in general, I like my heavy, power, death, thrash with solos!
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12.02.2015 - 06:07
moe5512
Written by Windir on 12.02.2015 at 05:47


'cause solos were an ensiferum trademark..

Wut? Since When? They didni't have that much solos even with their golden boy and finnish champion in neuroticism, Jari Mäenpää.. I do like solos if they are good but I'm totally fine if the 20 second guitar wanking is cut
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12.02.2015 - 08:12
Windir
Written by moe5512 on 12.02.2015 at 06:07

Written by Windir on 12.02.2015 at 05:47


'cause solos were an ensiferum trademark..

Wut? Since When? They didni't have that much solos even with their golden boy and finnish champion in neuroticism, Jari Mäenpää.. I do like solos if they are good but I'm totally fine if the 20 second guitar wanking is cut

Token of time, Guardians of fate, Abandoned, Windrider, Eternal wait, Goblins' dance, Iron, Lost in despair, Into battle, Lai lai hei, Blood is the price for glory, the new dawn, Victory song, Twilight tavern, Heathen throne, Elusive reaches, Stone cold metal, Smoking ruins, In my sword I trust, Burning leaves, Retribution shall be mine, Passion proof power.

R U serious? Ensiferum IS a lot of solo-structured pattern riffs, melodic guitars everywhere, off course "classic guitar riffs", and many solos: short, long, slow, fast, electric, acoustic, some banjo and keyboards (solos).

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12.02.2015 - 14:47
moe5512
Written by Windir on 12.02.2015 at 08:12

Token of time, Guardians of fate, Abandoned, Windrider, Eternal wait, Goblins' dance, Iron, Lost in despair, Into battle, Lai lai hei, Blood is the price for glory, the new dawn, Victory song, Twilight tavern, Heathen throne, Elusive reaches, Stone cold metal, Smoking ruins, In my sword I trust, Burning leaves, Retribution shall be mine, Passion proof power.

R U serious? Ensiferum IS a lot of solo-structured pattern riffs, melodic guitars everywhere, off course "classic guitar riffs", and many solos: short, long, slow, fast, electric, acoustic, some banjo and keyboards (solos).



With your standard of a solo (where one man army doesn't include a solo), you can cut like 8 songs from that list because they are "just melodies"..
But my unholy opinion is that you should only include solos if it comes naturally, if they are forced they sound like shit..
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12.02.2015 - 14:57
Windir
This is getting tedious, a solo is almost always melodic, saying that ensiferum has just a few songs with solos is ridiculous.
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13.02.2015 - 04:51
moe5512
Written by Windir on 12.02.2015 at 14:57

This is getting tedious, a solo is almost always melodic, saying that ensiferum has just a few songs with solos is ridiculous.

I'm not gonna argue with you on what's a solo and what's not, we have clearly different opinions but I think it's strange that you can dislike a song because it doesn't include a solo.
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14.02.2015 - 18:38
Windir
Written by moe5512 on 13.02.2015 at 04:51

Written by Windir on 12.02.2015 at 14:57

This is getting tedious, a solo is almost always melodic, saying that ensiferum has just a few songs with solos is ridiculous.

I'm not gonna argue with you on what's a solo and what's not, we have clearly different opinions but I think it's strange that you can dislike a song because it doesn't include a solo.

The solo is just a small part. It's more about everything (and this is my opinion about 2 songs, the rest of the album, I have no idea), both songs sound so boring, epic just because of the chants? Not at all! They used to have breaks and dynamics and a unique touch that isn't there anymore.
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15.02.2015 - 07:54
marshalldml
Written by moe5512 on 13.02.2015 at 04:51

Written by Windir on 12.02.2015 at 14:57

This is getting tedious, a solo is almost always melodic, saying that ensiferum has just a few songs with solos is ridiculous.

I'm not gonna argue with you on what's a solo and what's not, we have clearly different opinions but I think it's strange that you can dislike a song because it doesn't include a solo.

You shouldn't bother arguing with him,check his profile,he gave Unsung Heroes a 9,so......
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15.02.2015 - 12:26
Magere Tijn
Quote:
Keep in mind that neither was Unsung Heroes so terrible nor is this so glorious that One Man Army should be hailed as some manner of magnificent comeback or salvation of Ensiferum. They weren't "gone" that long, and the content here generally suggests that the sound Ensiferum is farming could use some rejuvenation or innovation pretty soon; even if this is an improvement, it seems to tell of a general decline on the books, and the band could use some new inspirations.

Ehh, wait. First they pump out a couple of albums which are all essentialy alike, then they do someting a bit diferent with Unsung Heroes, which gets burned to the ground by almost every reviewer, next they go back to what they were doing, and now they need to do something new?

I'm getting so bored by all the bashing of Unsung Heroes; tracks like Unsung Heroes, Burning Leaves, Pohjola and Passion Proof Power are genuine awesome Ensiferum songs which can easily fit on any other album. Yes, the other songs are different from what we're used from them, but isn't that exactly what you're asking for here? Something new?
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15.02.2015 - 13:50
ScreamingSteelUS
Editor-in-Chief
Written by Magere Tijn on 15.02.2015 at 12:26

Quote:
Keep in mind that neither was Unsung Heroes so terrible nor is this so glorious that One Man Army should be hailed as some manner of magnificent comeback or salvation of Ensiferum. They weren't "gone" that long, and the content here generally suggests that the sound Ensiferum is farming could use some rejuvenation or innovation pretty soon; even if this is an improvement, it seems to tell of a general decline on the books, and the band could use some new inspirations.

Ehh, wait. First they pump out a couple of albums which are all essentialy alike, then they do someting a bit diferent with Unsung Heroes, which gets burned to the ground by almost every reviewer, next they go back to what they were doing, and now they need to do something new?

I'm getting so bored by all the bashing of Unsung Heroes; tracks like Unsung Heroes, Burning Leaves, Pohjola and Passion Proof Power are genuine awesome Ensiferum songs which can easily fit on any other album. Yes, the other songs are different from what we're used from them, but isn't that exactly what you're asking for here? Something new?

I actually enjoyed Unsung Heroes overall; I love "In My Sword I Trust" and "Burning Leaves," and I don't believe that it deserves all the hate it receives. Nonetheless, it was far from a "great" album, and I found it seriously lacking in energy or spirit. It was certainly different, which in itself was a good thing, but the way in which it was different ultimately proved not to be positive.

What I'm expressing here is that the sound they had utilized on the previous few albums was, though still successful, starting to get a bit stale. I'm certainly glad that on One Man Army they tried to re-write From Afar rather than Unsung Heroes, but neither approach satisfies long-term. What I'm 'asking for,' in the eternally-unsatisfied manner of all fans, is for something that is both new and good. Unsung Heroes was new, but not really good enough; One Man Army is good, but the cracks were already showing in this traditional sound of theirs.
----
Row, row, fight the power
Djently down the stream

I'm the Agent of Steel.
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15.02.2015 - 15:46
Magere Tijn
Written by ScreamingSteelUS on 15.02.2015 at 13:50

Written by Magere Tijn on 15.02.2015 at 12:26

Quote:
Keep in mind that neither was Unsung Heroes so terrible nor is this so glorious that One Man Army should be hailed as some manner of magnificent comeback or salvation of Ensiferum. They weren't "gone" that long, and the content here generally suggests that the sound Ensiferum is farming could use some rejuvenation or innovation pretty soon; even if this is an improvement, it seems to tell of a general decline on the books, and the band could use some new inspirations.

Ehh, wait. First they pump out a couple of albums which are all essentialy alike, then they do someting a bit diferent with Unsung Heroes, which gets burned to the ground by almost every reviewer, next they go back to what they were doing, and now they need to do something new?

I'm getting so bored by all the bashing of Unsung Heroes; tracks like Unsung Heroes, Burning Leaves, Pohjola and Passion Proof Power are genuine awesome Ensiferum songs which can easily fit on any other album. Yes, the other songs are different from what we're used from them, but isn't that exactly what you're asking for here? Something new?

I actually enjoyed Unsung Heroes overall; I love "In My Sword I Trust" and "Burning Leaves," and I don't believe that it deserves all the hate it receives. Nonetheless, it was far from a "great" album, and I found it seriously lacking in energy or spirit. It was certainly different, which in itself was a good thing, but the way in which it was different ultimately proved not to be positive.

What I'm expressing here is that the sound they had utilized on the previous few albums was, though still successful, starting to get a bit stale. I'm certainly glad that on One Man Army they tried to re-write From Afar rather than Unsung Heroes, but neither approach satisfies long-term. What I'm 'asking for,' in the eternally-unsatisfied manner of all fans, is for something that is both new and good. Unsung Heroes was new, but not really good enough; One Man Army is good, but the cracks were already showing in this traditional sound of theirs.

Ah, indeed, the mythical 'something new which is also really good'. True, Unsung Heroes as an album lacks the energy which the other albums have. I believe that if Ensiferum was to make an album in the spirit of Unsung Heroes and just add the energy they show on other albums, it would be the right way to go, I'd really enjoy that. Somewhat different from earlier albums, but still clearly Ensiferum.
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16.02.2015 - 16:57
flightoficarus
Stamp Tramp
Having listened to the majority of the album now, I can say that I enjoy it to an extent, but it's just so distractingly unoriginal. If this were their first album, or I was new to the group; I would probably really love this. But the recycled melodies and retread of ideas has hit a point where this path has been beaten down to the stone. Still, props for improved production and increased energy from the last album; and there are the occasional dynamic additions that are nice.
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Daily underground metal recommendations at Metal Trenches.
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19.10.2015 - 15:26
Ikuinen
This album feels like a bunch of b-side songs.. very dissapointed
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16.12.2017 - 23:05
ScreamingSteelUS
Editor-in-Chief
I've just noticed that our track list for the album reads "Axe Of Judgment," which is correct, but my promo copy has "Axe Of Judgement," which I used in my review for that reason. Now it looks like I spelled the word wrong of my own accord. Cool.
----
Row, row, fight the power
Djently down the stream

I'm the Agent of Steel.
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12.01.2019 - 22:22
Bad English
Masterchief
Written by Ikuinen on 19.10.2015 at 15:26

This album feels like a bunch of b-side songs.. very dissapointed


hmm, well I have to agree in some way, but I would say as few were better as b sides.
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