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Ensiferum - Dragonheads

=Staff's pick

Warrior's Quest
Kalevala Melody
White Storm*
Into Hiding*
Finnish Medley:
- Karjalan Kunnailla
- Myrskyluodon Maija
- Metsämiehen Laulu

Genre Folk Metal
Petri L./Markus T.
Tracks 6
Petri Lindroos
Runningtime 26 Min.
Markus Toivonen
Label Spinefarm
Sami Hinkka
Release 15 Feb. 2006
Janne Parviainen
Country Finland
Meiju Enho
Similar artists Wintersun, Finntroll

Finnish folk metal band Ensiferum are finally back on the scene after two brilliant albums in their back. This time there has been a change of vocalist. Out went Jari Mäenpää and in came Petri Linroos, also singer in the band Norther. I will right away say that of course, since Lindroos is a less good singer than Mäenpää, the quality of the vocals sank a bit but not so much as I had thought. He fills the shoes well and he fits well enough in the whole concept. Enough said about that, over to the musical aspect.

It opens with Dragonheads, a soft and relativly laid back song that rolls steady forward in midtempo. Some really delicious guitar leads go as usual like a red thread throughout the song, but there is no abundance. A big part of the vocals are built by chanting-like choirs that create a mighty mood. The song initially felt adeqaute but nothing special but it has come to grow on me and is really good but no masterpiece. Next out is Warrior's Quest and it pretty much continues in the same vein as the opening song. Midtempo and a bit melancholic with choirs and the occasionally uptempo beat. Slightly below average according to Ensiferum standards and no eyebrow raiser.

So far good, since Ensiferums lowest level is very high, but nothing impressive. A short instrumental bit of standard type leads up to White Storm and now we are talking. Here is the energy that I miss in the first two tracks. Uptempo with great melodies, awesome breaks with guitar leads and chanting, diverse without being too progressive and familiar Ensiferum without being cliché. Still I have the feeling that something is missing in order to make this really great.

The Amorphis cover Into Hiding is next out. A good song in original and in an Ensiferum version it is just as good or perhaps even better. I consider it one of the better tracks on this release along with Dragonheads and that hints that Ensiferum do not hit the jackpot with their own material this time. It is all rounded off with a finnish medley. One folktune after the other is being lined up and are weaved together to a jolly potpurri. Charming, and with nice melodies, but it is a bit too much when the second half sounds like a second class schlager.

Apperantly the band is not planning on budging one inch from their beaten path. The folk melodies, the song structures, the ever ongoing choirs, it's all there in the same shape and structure as before and that is perfectly fine by me. In fact, it is preferable since that is what they do best but in that case the songs has to be better than this.

Of course we should have in mind that this is just a taster, or a teaser if you like, of the full length album that will surface later this year and they are most likely holding on the goodies until then. If they just manage to keep the standard of Dragonheads and White Storm I am sure the album will be a killer. I also realise that I have been extremely spoiled with their previously two album whereof one of them is a one of a few perfect tens throughout metal history. It sure makes you have expectations on all future releases.

I do however hope for a bit for energy and more intensity for the upcoming album. That is what I am missing here. A pretty solid buy for the diehard fan and the collector, but the average Joe could as well skip this and wait for the album instead.

See also review of: From Afar , Victory Songs , Ensiferum , 10th Anniversary Live






7 chalices of 10 - Tommy

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