The folk metal bands latest offering opens with March of War, a call to arms (so to speak) but it is Axe of Judgement that really gets the ball rolling.
Heavier than expected & extremely fast with death metal vocals, it doesn’t let up until half-way through when it slows down a bit & showcases some of the more folk instruments available.
Heathen Horde’s use of gang (or should it be army?) vocals helps elevate this song into a more memorable number while One Man Army brings the aggression but with a really great melody & guitar solo.
A brief interlude, Burden of the Falling showcasing some of the bands folk efforts is welcome, it is easy to imagine sitting around a fire after a battle reminiscing about those that have fallen.
Warrior Without a War follows & is an excellent blend of the metal & folk. It’s instantly catchy & will stick in your head for a long time after. A really well done song that you’re actually sorry to see end.
The same can be said for the excellent Cry for the Earth Bounds that has a really surprising female vocal section. Sandwiched in by some really epic sounding group sections/death metal it works so well.
The fast-paced guitar intro of Two of Spades is in serious contrast to the last song & that pace never lets up even when folk elements are brought in, at least until the sudden ‘disco-esqe’ section. This is a bemusing moment & readily spoils what was a good song up to that point.
My Ancestor’s Blood is a slow, brooding & heavy song with sudden bouts of rousing moments designed to get the blood pumping. It works…
The final 2 songs on the album are Descendants, Defiance, Domination…an 11+ minute epic that is incredibly impressive to hear & Neito Pohjolan,an Wild West inspired that utilises female vocals throughout. The former is far superior with the latter not feeling like a fitting end to an otherwise excellent album.
An impressive album that does a masterful job of combining heavy metal & folk music. A few minor mis-steps here & there does little to spoil the overall product.
Ensiferum – One Man Army (Metal Blade Records)
The Final Score - 8/10
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