ENSIFERUM — Iron

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ENSIFERUM - Iron cover
3.74 | 23 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 2004

Filed under Folk Metal
By ENSIFERUM

Tracklist

1. Ferrum Aeternum (3:28)
2. Iron (3:53)
3. Sword Chant (4:44)
4. Mourning Heart (interlude) (1:23)
5. Tale of Revenge (4:30)
6. Lost in Despair (5:37)
7. Slayer of Light (3:10)
8. Into Battle (5:52)
9. LAI LAI HEI (7:15)
10. Tears (3:20)
11. Battery (10:42)

Total Time: 53:58

Line-up/Musicians

Band members:

Jari Mäenpää / guitars, vocals
Markus Toivonen / guitars
Meiju Enho / keyboards
Jukka-Pekka Miettinen − bass
Oliver Fokin / drums, percussion

Session musicians:

Vesa Vigman / bouzouki, mandolin, saz, and dulcimer.
Eveliina Kontio / kantele
Kaisa Saari / female vocals on "Ferrum Aeternum" and "Tears", tenor and soprano
recorders and tin whistles

About this release

Label: Spinefarm

Thanks to bartosso, Unitron for the updates

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siLLy puPPy
Raising their Viking swords to save another day ENSIFERUM delivers and displays their thrash metal leanings and power metal fantasies and rolls out another folk-tinged metal assault on their 2nd album IRON. While the debut album focused more on making thrashy metal powerhouses out of folk musical chord progressions and focused more on the heaviness, IRON has a lighter feel overall and focuses more on the folk side of their musical equation. From the pure folk (perhaps overlong) instrumental opener “Ferrum Aeternum” we get the full side of the melodic aspects of ENSIFERUM. The second track kicks into the metal but even then doesn't lean toward the thrashiness of the debut. The harder rip roarin' tracks don't really begin until track eight “Slayer Of Light” where there are three tracks of melodic folk assault that can actually complete with the debut.

What I love about ENSIFERUM is you really get all kinds of metal rolled into one with traditional folk music as well. The folk is symphonic and professionally done complete with bouzouki, mandolin, saz, dulcimer, sax, kantele and female vocals. On the metal side we get traditional metal, thrash, death growls and some smokin' solos that add an extra layer of intensity. This is the last album to feature Jari Mäenpää on vocals and guitars because he was more dedicated to the Wintersun projects and was booted from the band so he could dedicate his full attention. While I loved the debut album this one was initially a bit of a disappointment. I thought it was a little weak in comparison because it isn't as heavy throughout its entirety, but after many listens I have grown to really like the subtleties of this offering. True, it could have been paced a little better with some of the tracks moved around but on the whole I find myself liking this album quite a bit despite it not topping the debut in any given way.
Conor Fynes
'Iron' - Ensiferum (6/10)

Hailed by the band's fans as well as many folk metal heavyweights as a classic of the genre, Ensiferum's 'Iron' is now by many standards; a classic album. Although some have gone on to prefer the Wintersun project that band frontman Jari Maenpaa would do after leaving this band, there is no doubt that Ensiferum have left a great mark on folk, or pagan, or viking, or whatever-you-want-to-call-it metal with this album. Basing their act around their historic culture, as well as broader subjects concerning things like fighting, folklore, nature, and fighting, it is clear that this Finnish act have carved out a very particular niche for themselves,and their speed-oriented brand of folk metal is also established very firmly here. While Ensiferum clearly knows what they want to do here, and do it well at that, the result still feels like an album that- while barrels of good fun- could have been a great deal better, given a little more moderation.

Keep in mind that this is a relative outsider to the world of pagan metal speaking, but there is no doubt that Ensiferum is a band that aims to go over-the-top with virtually every aspect of their sound. Whether its the speedy rhythms, bombastic folk interludes, or belted vocals, everything about Ensiferum exudes this vibe of overindulgence. For the most part, this works well and is alot of fun. Going into a pagan metal album, one knows quite well what to expect, and Ensiferum does deliver that much; a collection of upbeat, epic-sounding metal tracks with a handful of folky segments to provide a great soundtrack to some beer-fueled pagan party out in the wilderness somewhere. The metal parts have some good energy to them, and the folk parts often feel like more than a gimmick; as is especially evidenced in the first track on the album, they are not afraid to let the folk elements take hold for a little longer than your average folk metal band's necessary interlude. This is something I can respect Ensiferum for.

While Ensiferum has got some great things going on for them, it feels to me like the way they are organized and put together could still use alot of work. While we have this over-the-top sound and upbeat folk, that is really all there is to 'Iron', no middle ground, no substantial moments of build-up, nothing but this small handful of different sounds. It is like driving a car that will only allow you to rocket ahead, or inch along. While Ensiferum do get the 'epic' vibe across that I am so sure they were aiming for, the total lack of moderation and dynamic in their sound makes the wild sound feel pretty tame after its been rocketing along for around forty minutes. When I first listened to the album, I was even thinking that the version I was hearing could have been sped up; at times, things sounded like Ensiferum were content to trade off musicality for speed, when I feel some of these tracks could have benefited by being toned down a notch, at least here and there.

'Iron' is a good album for folk metal, and it is very indicative of legions of bands who opt to play this upbeat and energetic style of music. While I do like what Ensiferum have done here, my thoughts about their music here are more mixed than anything, and despite the enjoyment that's been had here, I can't be but a little disappointed, when a few things could have been improved upon to make for a much more powerful experience.

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