Metal Review – Ensiferum – Unsung Heroes (2012)

Ensiferum - Unsung HeroesEnsiferum is an acquired taste and really not one of my favorite bands, so I was heading into this review figuring that I would hate their latest release, Unsung Heroes, which hits North American shores on September 18 through Spinefarm Records. Produced by Hiili Hiilesmaa (HIM, Sentenced, Apocalyptica), the album features artwork by Kristian Wahlin and a medley of special guests including members of Die Apokalyptischen Reiter plus legendary Finnish singer/actor, Vesa-Matti Loiri.

The album begins with In My Sword I Trust (view the behind the scenes video below) and this track simply rocks. It has that catchy like folk metal-styled riff that puts us in the mood and becomes a very layered song with a barrage of riffs and vocal styles throughout the song. The solo, while way too short, hits the spot as well.

After the opening track, the album slows in pace and almost comes to a complete halt. While the album says Ensiferum, you would be hard-pressed to believe someone who told you that this is Ensiferum. The tracks are lacking heart and spirit for the most part, and I say that fairly because I was in the mood for some good balls-to-the-wall folk metal. When it comes to folk metal, Ensiferum is still one of the best, but after listening to Unsung Heroes, you start to question what happened.

The title track, Unsung Heroes, barely feels like an Ensiferum track. The pace is far too slow to the point of almost being uncomfortable to listen to. Songs like Burning Leaves feel like they want that loud, chanting chorus, but then they bring a chorus that just falls flat.

The final track, Passion Proof Power, which is nearly 17:00 minutes long, is earmarked as their opus. I have heard some people go so far as to compare it to Iron Maiden’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner in more ways than just the length. I am here to tell you that this is no Rime of the Ancient Mariner. This is a painful song to get through.

While In My Sword I Trust is a more traditional Ensiferum-sounding song, the rest of the tracks are missing the vibe that they have always set with each previous release. I would love to hear from Ensiferum fans that can defend this album, so let me know your thoughts.

Ensiferum – In My Sword I Trust – Behind the Scenes

Unsung Heroes Track Listing:
01. Symbols
02. In My Sword I Trust
03. Unsung Heroes
04. Burning Leaves
05. Celestial Bond
06. Retribution Shall Be Mine
07. Star Queen (Celestial Bond Part II)
08. Pohjola
09. Last Breath
10. Passion, Proof, Power