Saturday, 5 June 2010

CD Review: From Afar, by Ensiferum (2009)

Ensiferum have polished their folk metal skills to a glittering shine: but while the performance and professionalism is on full display, the spark of creativity needed to ignite the package is sadly missing.

From Afar, the 4th full-length studio album from the Finnish outfit, never descends into filler material and maintains a good standard of metal throughout. But it is dragged down by a mis-firing epic in two parts. Heathen Throne and its sequel The Longest Journey each clock in at over 11 minutes. The ambition and length are quite inconsistent with the quality, as both tracks meander endlessly, never gain traction, and mostly just amble along looking for a direction. The 23 total minutes that get chewed up put a damp and slightly icky cloth over the rest of the CD.

It is left to the energetic Twilight Tavern to pick up the pace and inject much needed purpose. Stone Cold Metal is an undisguised and fun homage to Ennio Morricone's spaghetti western themes, while Smoking Ruins and the title track From Afar prove that Ensiferum can still shine when the funky spirits of the forest moves them. Unfortunately, the inspiration is in relatively limited supply on this CD.


Markus Toivonen - Guitar
Sami Hinkka - Bass
Petri Linoroos - Guitar, Vocals
Emmi Silvennoinen - Keyboards
Janne Parviainen - Drums

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. By The Dividing Stream - 7
2. From Afar - 8
3. Twilight Tavern - 9
4. Heathen Throne - 7
5. Elusive Reaches - 7
6. Stone Cold Metal - 8
7. Smoking Ruins - 8
8. Tumman Virran Taa - n/a (short track)
9. The Longest Journey (Heathen Throne Part II) - 7

Average: 7.63

Produced by Ensiferum, Janne Joutsenniemi, Tero Kinnunen.
Engineered by Tero Kinnunen, Janne Joutsenniemi.
Mixed by Hiili Hiilesmaa. Mastered by Svante Forsback.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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