Ensiferum Unsung Heroes

EnsiferumUnsung Heroes
One thing needs to be made clear: these heroes have been sung about before. Finnish folk metallers Ensiferum are well loved and have enjoyed adulation and support from their fans since their inception. Unsung Heroes is their fifth full-length album ― sixth if you count the re-release collecting their first three demos. They dub themselves "heroic folk metal," in an effort to describe the battle-ready quality of their music, defined by galloping rhythms and stirring choruses. With their rigorous touring schedule and productive output, Ensiferum have had plenty of time to develop and refine their aesthetic, and inhabit it fully. This is what makes Unsung Heroes so puzzling: it really doesn't sound like Ensiferum at all. The components of the sound are there, to be sure, but the spirit ― the sweeping, inspirational quality, cinematic in intensity, which gave the band most of their charm ― is almost entirely absent. Unsung Heroes sounds staid and tired. The pace on most of the songs is a bit drearier than their usual fare, but it's definitely the energy that's missed the most. "Pohjola" is the one exception, capturing a bit of sparkling winsomeness, but it's not nearly enough to save the rest of this record from itself. Unsung Heroes, while not the most tightly written record, is still ell-played, but without love and joy, demonstrating just how necessary spirit and abundant energy are to Ensiferum's success and sound. When those elements are lacking, the sound becomes an empty fortress haunted by itself. (Spinefarm)