Ensiferum - From Afar review
|Release date:||September 2009|
01. By The Dividing Stream
02. From Afar
03. Twilight Tavern
04. Heathen Throne
05. Elusive Reaches
06. Stone Cold Metal
07. Smoking Ruins
08. Tumman Virran Taa
09. The Longest Journey (Heathen Throne Part II)
10. Vandraren [Nordman cover] [feat. Heri Joensen] [limited edition bonus]
Ensiferum have been on a journey in recent years and have become one of the most followed bands of this time. From Afar is therefore an extremely eagerly anticipated album from these Finnish masters of folk metal. The good news is that From Afar shows Ensiferum make their return in fine form. The album has no drastic changes in sound or personnel, making this the second album with Petri Lindroos leading the sword-wielders into battle.
Victory Songs was an outstanding album two years ago, but in the meantime the folk metal scene especially has changed with the rise of more and more copycat bands. From Afar once again establishes Ensiferum as the top dog in this category as the band have had time to mature and take a step back. From Afar is not as catchy as its predecessor, but this means it is also not as blatantly and shamelessly an album for the popular times. Although From Afar might not be as initially memorable on first hearing, it does come out on top in the long-run displaying much more depth in the music.
Of course the album has its catchy songs. The title track "From Afar" and slightly off-the-wall "Stone Cold Metal" are the best examples of these. "Twilight Tavern" seems as though it was written entirely for the purposes of playing live, but the most uncharacteristically-Ensiferum appearances are two eleven-minute plus songs "Heathen Throne" and "The Longest Journey (Heathen Throne Part II)". These songs show the band are not a one-trick-pony song-wise, but do also show that Ensiferum, like any other band, are just as capable of writing songs that hamper and slow the pace of an album.
Keyboards don't play such a large role, and to compensate for this, more attention and effort has gone into the guitars of the album to back up the monster melodies the band can't help themselves from creating. The production is also slightly different to compensate for all this; the keyboards aren't blaring out so high and we find this makes From Afar sound thicker with a much more full and balanced sound.
Where Victory Songs is a straight forward album showcasing Ensiferum's mix of black, folk, and power metal elements; From Afar takes the song-writing to a different level and is therefore much more diverse in song structures and general pacing of the album. Although a few of the songs from the album do slip below the radar and the long songs are simply not as good as "Victory Song", Ensiferum are once again showing the light for other bands to follow within this style. Ensiferum are a band that cannot disappoint.
||Written on 08.09.2009 by Member of Staff since 2006.|
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