Ensiferum - Unsung Heroes
Finland's folk metal heroes, Ensiferum are a band I was highly impressed with years ago (see my review of 2007's "Victory Songs") but lost track of soon after. While I missed out on their last record, Unsung Heroes came across my desk and I just so happened to be craving the sort of up-tempo, medieval epicness the band dabbles in. While comparisons to their earlier work hold up, by itself Unsung Heroes is likely one of the best metal albums you'll hear in 2012.
The album is thick with glorious anthems of warfare, melodic ballads of mythical imaginings and a seamless blend of the two here and there. "Symbols" is a majestic orchestral intro piece, a real mood setter both tasteful and appropriate. "In My Sword I Trust" is a warm return for Ensiferum, one of their most memorable tracks to date, uplifting in it's imagery and galloping rhythm. Over 100 minutes of grand musical movements stretch across Unsung Heroes, with highlights including the striking assault of "Burning Leaves", the somber and moving "Celestial Bond", and the band's most ambitious piece of music yet, the 17 minute suite "Passion Proof Power", which is in reality a combination of brilliant ideas that could have been fleshed out into an EP's worth of material. The core of this band is undoubtedly their ability to transport their listeners to another time and place entirerly, an attribute that first endeared me to their craft years ago and one in which they've lost no ability.
With very little to disappoint and some monumentally memorable moments throughout, Unsung Heroes is arguably the height of Ensiferum's impressive discography to date. Fans of powerful metal laced with simple, tasteful folk and mystical themes need look no further for the absolute pinnacle of an endlessly popular branch of heavy metal.
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