7/3/2008 - Review by: David Loveless
Several years ago I conducted an interview with Aramath of Woodtemple and during the interview I mentioned that Viking Metal seemed to be a dying genre. He quickly put me in my place by telling me that it was alive and stronger than ever. Now, two years later, I could not agree more! With constant stellar releases by the likes of Woodtemple and Moonsorrow, and with the awesome lineup of this year’s Paganfest that included such heavyweights as Tyr and Ensiferum, Viking Metal is stronger than ever. One of the stand-out bands of the Viking Metal scene is Finlands' own, Ensiferum. With the release of their third full-length album, Victory Songs, Ensiferums’ unique blend of Viking influences and traditional folk melodies make them one of the most enjoyable bands on the scene today.
Ad Victoriam leads the charge as the albums instrumental opener that sets the scene as if a worn-and-torn Viking ship is returning to port from battle - hoisting the flag of victory. Next, Blood Is the Price of Glory breaks down the wall of silence with traditional Scandinavian metal riffs, and borderline black metal style vocals. With a style faster than your typical Viking metal act, Blood sounds more like Cradle of Filth than Tyr or Moonsorrow. The third song is Deathbringer from the Sky and the opening vocals would make King Diamond or Rob Halford proud. With more of a Folk influence than the previous song, Deathbringer is still a fast-paced heavy hitter that fans of all genres of metal could get into. The next song, Ahti, starts off with pummeling blast beats and melodic rhythms, and garnishes a heavier folk influence. Next comes One More Magic Potion. Starting off with a traditional folk-style acoustic passage and then pulsating into a melodic metal assault, this song represents every aspect of the Ensiferum sound. Wanderer could be considered the albums pinnacle folk metal track. With a slower pace, clean vocals, and plenty of acoustic guitars in the mix, Wanderer is another highlight track that does the Viking Metal genre proud. Next comes Raised by the Sword. Again, starting off with a folk influenced passage, the song quickly kicks in with blast beats, a killer riff, and an awesome blend of harsh and clean vocals. The New Dawn again reminds me of classic Cradle of Filth (minus the black metal style vocals). The final song on the album is the ten and a half minute opus called Victory Songs. The songs starts off with more folk melodies and then blasts into a metal midsection before closing out the song the way it started.
Victory Songs by Ensiferum is an excellent metal offering for fans of all types of metal. As Ensiferum seems to progress forward with each release, they are sure to be around for a while to continue the claim of Viking Metal victory! For those that are new to Ensiferum and the Viking Metal scene in general, Victory Songs is the perfect introductory album for a metal genre that continues to rise to the top.
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