Undoubtedly Ensiferum is one of the most successful bands in the epic viking metal scene. They were formed 15 years ago and they released their impressive self-titled debut in 2001, gaining immediately the respect of fans of the genre, as well as many praising reviews. After that, there were many line-up changes and the band released 2 more full-length albums, one demo collection, one EP, one live DVD and many singles and most of them sold really good. It is true that they have improved their production and got much more professional sound through the years, but none of these works was as inspired as their debut.
When I got “From Afar”, I was sure I was going to listen to a good album, well played and excellently produced, but I wasn’t expecting anything “fresh”. After listening to it several times, I found out my predictions were correct. The only thing I wasn’t expecting is that the songs would be that good! I believe that this album is the best Ensiferum have released since their debut (that was a real landmark). They have a more symphonic approach in their compositions and the orchestrations are very rich and complex, still everything is perfectly clear. There are some typical Ensiferum songs with bridges and melodic choruses in the refrains, as well as some longer songs with slower more epic parts (two of them are more than 11 minutes long). Generally this album is more epic oriented, focusing on the melodic elements rather than the rhythmic death metal riffing, without losing anything of its power. Lindroos’ harsh vocals are working again in prefect balance with the choirs and Toivonen’s clean ones. The acoustic and symphonic passages are all beautiful and the band has composed 9 songs of highest quality, with many interesting and enchanting ideas: “Twilight Tavern” is a great uplifting song perfect for live shows, “Stone Cold Metal” has a very unusual and beautiful “wild west” passage, “Smoking Ruins” has amazing acoustic guitars and clean vocals, “Heathen Throne” and “The Longest Journey” are two long epic atmospheric sagas with soundtrack elements; all songs have something to say!
When such a great band manages to exceed our expectations, I guess there is not much left to say. It’s a more than safe investment. The album is released by Spinefarm Records in normal jewel case, as well as in a limited digibook with a bonus track. Kristian Wåhlin made the artwork once again in the characteristic “Ensiferum” style. You can visit their official pages for more info.
Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos