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Ensiferum are arguably one of the better known bands of their scene and generally do what they do very well. The band went a long way towards proving themselves, as well as creating a divide between fans of Petri Lindroos and fans of Jari Maenpaa, with ‘From Afar’ and ‘Unsung Heroes’ could have a bit of a job to do. But if you’re still upset about that, he’s got an album out too so you shouldn’t complain too hard really. Unnecessarily long and pointless symphonic intro track aside (I’m sure it’ll be amazing as a live intro but I doubt it’s going to blow anyone away on the album), the first thing that’s noticeable about ‘Unsung Heroes’ is that it’s actually fairly low key. There’s the token catchy single, ‘In My Sword I Trust’ in this case, and it does contain all of the elements that you would associate with Ensiferum but without being so “all in your shit” about it. They spend a bit more time developing the folk and symphonic elements of their sound and seem to use more clean vocals than they did on ‘From Afar’ (as well as more lady vocals, if you’re into that sort of thing). If you want a prime example of Ensiferum doing symphonic, look no further than ‘Pahjola’. It may be a bit contrived at times but not bad for a band that wouldn’t normally do something so obviously in this vein. The band neatly sum up the album themselves with ‘Passion Proof Power’, so if you can’t be bothered to listen to the first 45 minutes or so then you can just listen to this beast as it is essentially the main elements of the album squished together in one neat 17 minute package. Plus they throw a weird 70s prog bit in for good measure and just generally go to town a bit more than they do on the rest of the album. I have to admit, while it’s a solid album and shows growth from the band, which I’m sure fans will appreciate, I’m finding it quite difficult to get over-excited about the ‘Unsung Heroes’. There’s a lot to be said for it, it will probably go down as one of their best albums amongst non-folk metal fans as they’ve developed more of the other side of their sound but by doing that they’ve lost something that was quintessentially Ensiferum. I’ll put it down as a potential “grower” and see what happens.
Spinefarm Records
Review by Siân Williams
27th August 2012
1) Symbols
2) In My Sword I Trust
3) Unsung Heroes
4) Burning Leaves
5) Celestial Bond
6) Retribution Shall Be Mine
7) Star Queen (Celestial Bond part II)
8) Pohjola
9) Last Breath
10) Passion Proof Power
"They spend a bit more time developing the folk and symphonic elements of their sound and seem to use more clean vocals than they did on ‘From Afar’..."