Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Ensiferum - 'One Man Army' Review

Finnish folk/viking metal band Ensiferum have returned with their sixth full-length and first for Metal Blade Records, One Man Army, released on the 20th February. I must confess that I'm not the biggest fan of viking metal but I'm not above stepping outside of my comfort zone every now and again so I'm going to put all of my misgivings on the genre aside for this review in an attempt to provide as unbiased a review as I possibly can. Or at least I'm going to try so here goes. 

The album begins with an instrumental intro, 'March of War', an almost medieval sounding ditty before storming ahead into 'Axe of Judgement', a track featuring some excellent drumming and guitar work which really shows off the band's ability to create music with a real Norse feel to it.

'Heathen Horde' has more of a war/power metal feel to it, as does the aptly titled sixth track in 'Warrior Without A War'. Highlights are 'Axe of Judgement' and the title track 'One Man Army' with their fast paced thrashy hooks and breakneck drumming. 

The album shines when it's storming ahead at full speed as it feels like the band are taking the music seriously but when things slow down slightly and the synths kick in the tone of the album seems to change and it feels like they're going out of their way to make the music more fun. It's these moments that take me out of the experience and it just all seems a little too gimmicky and, frankly, silly. For example, at around the midway point in eight track in, 'Two of Spades', they've inserted what could best be described as a 70s disco section. I wish I were joking.

The production is crisp and clear and there's some outstanding musicianship on display here but the way it's presented just isn't for me unfortunately. If you're a fan of the genre then I've no doubt you'll get a kick out of this album but, regrettably, it's not convinced me to go out to buy a broadsword and a loincloth, swim the channel and lay siege to France. Again. 

Fuel Rock Club

Fuel Rock Club
Cardiff's Only Dedicated Rock & Metal Bar and Club