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Ensiferum: Victory Songs

Care for some Finnish styled Viking metal? Then get off your ass and pick up a copy of the latest from Ensiferum, titled Victory Songs. This is the bands first release here in the United States (courtesy of Candlelight Records) and sees the band take the styles of acts such as Finntroll and Korpiklaani and combine with levels of extremity found with Enslaved, Amon Amarth, Borknagar, and Thyrfing. Finnish folk instruments such as kantele, bagpipe, nyckelharpa, and bodhrans make an appearance on Victory Songs, adding that traditional element from Ensiferum's homeland to give this album a certain warmth.

This is the bands third full-length release since their inception in 1995, and it's a very polished effort. Comprised of guitarist Markus Toivonen, singer Petri Lindroos (ex-Norther), bassist Sami Hinkka, keyboard player Meiju Enho, and drummer Janne Parviainen, Ensiferum blow through one uptempo number after another, hitting all the right prog-metal buttons on "The New Dawn", diving into epic folk-metal territory on the lengthy title track, and crossing over into Viking styled black metal on such ravenous pieces like "Blood is the Prince of Glory" and "Deathbringer From the Sky". The sprinkling of majestic keys and relentless double bass drum fury also gives the arrangements a heavy power metal vibe as well, as on the Children of Bodem-meets-Blind Guardian "Ahti". Then again, if you like folky, symphonic metal ala Finntroll, you'll absolutely love "One More Magic Potion", a real excuse to get up on your feet and dance the humppa.

They might not be a household word yet in the world of metal, but Ensiferum are certainly on their way to increased recognition with the release of Victory Songs. So, to all metal fans here in the US-take a listen to this CD and find out what much of Europe has been raving about.

Track Listing
1) Ad Victoriam
2) Blood is the Prince of Glory
3) Deathbringer From the Sky
4) Ahti
5) One More Magic Potion
6) Wanderer
7) Raised By the Sword
8) The New Dawn
9) Victory Song

Added: December 4th 2007
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Ensiferum Website
Hits: 4890
Language: english

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Ensiferum: Victory Songs
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-12-03 06:31:22
My Score:

I'm beginning to think that there's nothing better than a little Viking Metal when you are looking for music to get the blood pumping and the energy level raised. This belief was affirmed when I began to play the album Victory Songs, the US debut by Finland's own Ensiferum. As the album begins you immediately hear that Ensiferum approaches the Viking Metal genre with a slightly different twist and this is perhaps based on the band being Finnish as opposed to being Norwegians. They blend many elements of Finnish Folk Metal into the Viking side and as result have some similarity to bands like Korpiklaani and Finntroll. Of course they don't sound exactly like them since Korpiklaani is quite festive and vibrant and brings dancing to mine while Finntroll makes you want to pillage a town and maybe even drink quite a bit. With Victory Songs, Ensiferum are presenting you with a call to arms and as the album opens with "Ad Victoriam" , I felt as though I was riding a proud stallion up a mountain with armies behind me until we overlooked a region that was to be ours for the taking. The orchestrations end and the band attack commences with as "Blood Is The Price Of Glory" which is a thunderous number where you can really envision a terrible battle taking place as it plays through. It is right then that you realize this is going to be an exciting album. There is straight ahead Metal found on "Deathbringer From The Sky" with its crushing guitar riffs and bombastic double bass drumming and with the song "Ahti" the guys sound quite a lot like Children Of Bodom based on the structure used in the tune and in the way that singer Petri Lindroos is handling the vocal lines. The band is also comprised of founder Markus Toivonen (guitar), Sami Hinkka (bass), Meiju Enho (keyboards) and Janne Parviainen (drums). The keyboards on the album however were the work of Finntroll's own "Trollhorn" Henri Sorvali who uses his vast talents to bring different worlds of sound to the release. The guys also make strong use of the traditional Finnish Folk instruments such as the kantele, bagpipe, nyckelharpa and bodhrans which really help to make this album sound all the more interesting.

"One More Magic Potion" is another solid track but it's during "The Wanderer" where we find the clean vocals that could give this band a potential hit or at least one of the catchiest tunes on the album in terms of the audience response in the live sense. The vocals for much of the album are more of a screaming vocal like we find in CoB as opposed to the growling beast vocals that so many other Viking Metal bands employ. The fact that Ensiferum mixes this up with the clean vocals and it truly works. The album remains heavy and does not bore you as it progresses. The closing number is the title track "Victory Songs" and like its name is as epic in scope as it is in time. When the release concludes you will most probably do what I did and let it spin through one more time in order to better enjoy it. Raise the sword high in the honor and glory of battle fellow Vikings for Ensiferum are finally able to bring their music to new territory and thus conquer new listeners for the sake of Metal the response to this one will have all singing the praises of the group and their Victory Songs. Hails and horns high.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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