Rating:
9.0
Ensiferum - From Afar
9 September 2009


01. By The Dividing Stream
02. From Afar
03. Twilight Tavern
04. Heathen Throne
05. Elusive Reaches
06. Stone Cold Metal
07. Smoking Ruins
08. Tumman Virran Taa
09. The Longest Journey (Heathen Throne Part II)
10. Vandraren [Nordman cover] [feat. Heri Joensen] [limited edition bonus]


Ensiferum have been on a journey in recent years and have become one of the most followed bands of this time. From Afar is therefore an extremely eagerly anticipated album from these Finnish masters of folk metal. The good news is that From Afar shows Ensiferum make their return in fine form. The album has no drastic changes in sound or personnel, making this the second album with Petri Lindroos leading the sword-wielders into battle.

Victory Songs was an outstanding album two years ago, but in the meantime the folk metal scene especially has changed with the rise of more and more copycat bands. From Afar once again establishes Ensiferum as the top dog in this category as the band have had time to mature and take a step back. From Afar is not as catchy as its predecessor, but this means it is also not as blatantly and shamelessly an album for the popular times. Although From Afar might not be as initially memorable on first hearing, it does come out on top in the long-run displaying much more depth in the music.

Of course the album has its catchy songs. The title track "From Afar" and slightly off-the-wall "Stone Cold Metal" are the best examples of these. "Twilight Tavern" seems as though it was written entirely for the purposes of playing live, but the most uncharacteristically-Ensiferum appearances are two eleven-minute plus songs "Heathen Throne" and "The Longest Journey (Heathen Throne Part II)". These songs show the band are not a one-trick-pony song-wise, but do also show that Ensiferum, like any other band, are just as capable of writing songs that hamper and slow the pace of an album.

Keyboards don't play such a large role, and to compensate for this, more attention and effort has gone into the guitars of the album to back up the monster melodies the band can't help themselves from creating. The production is also slightly different to compensate for all this; the keyboards aren't blaring out so high and we find this makes From Afar sound thicker with a much more full and balanced sound.

Where Victory Songs is a straight forward album showcasing Ensiferum's mix of black, folk, and power metal elements; From Afar takes the song-writing to a different level and is therefore much more diverse in song structures and general pacing of the album. Although a few of the songs from the album do slip below the radar and the long songs are simply not as good as "Victory Song", Ensiferum are once again showing the light for other bands to follow within this style. Ensiferum are a band that cannot disappoint.

-

Folk metal
Spinefarm Records
Finland
Length: 56:34

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 9
Production: 9


Band profile: Ensiferum
Album: From Afar


 



Written on 08.09.2009 by
Baz Anderson
Member of Staff since 2006.
More reviews by Baz Anderson ››



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Galar - 08.09.2009 at 17:59  
Great review good score
RhaegarTargaryen - 08.09.2009 at 18:43  
whitepawel - 08.09.2009 at 19:00  
Their first good album without Jari. Finally
bloodwrage - 08.09.2009 at 19:07  
I thought the exact same thing. I think he gushes a bit too much though. I'd give it a lower rating.
juanopereira - 08.09.2009 at 19:59  
I also give it a 9. Good review and album.
Sentenced Odiin - 08.09.2009 at 20:13  
In my opinion, it is equally to Iron, not enought good as Ensiferum (the ablum) but far better than Victory Songs.
Doc Godin - 08.09.2009 at 20:14  
Nice. Judging from the new video I watched, paragraph #2 seems very true. Will probably pick this up in a few days.
Talgrimm - 08.09.2009 at 20:29  
I can't stop listening to this album! Glad some others think the same! Decibel magazine only gave it a 3/10 though, I couldn't believe that :
danielllewis - 08.09.2009 at 20:31  
Lol, why doesn't anybody like victory songs?

Anyways, good review. Mine will come in the mail today or tomorrow, and after reading this review, I look forward to hearing it
GT - 08.09.2009 at 22:06  
Hmm seems like an album I should give a try and maybe even pick up
Ellrohir - 08.09.2009 at 22:12  
Wow...i really didnt expected such a high "official" rating after first comments in band thread by listeners
Ag Fox - 08.09.2009 at 23:51  
Agree with Ellrohir...
guess I really have to check them out
Abattoir - 08.09.2009 at 23:56  
Well, I have only listened to ''From Afar'' song till now (and it sounds pretty good), so I guess that the rest of album is also somewhere in the same way. I'll probably get this one quite soon.
Vitriolic Hate - 09.09.2009 at 00:47  
Agreed nice review!!!
NeoSe7en - 09.09.2009 at 03:21  
I like Victory Songs, but I also think they lost a lot when Jari left. If this review is accurate it sounds like they've taken a step forward. Can't wait to hear it.
flamey - 09.09.2009 at 03:39  
Step forward, better than Victory Songs, still not as good as Iron or Ensiferum. At least the guitar riffs are better than VS, which were at best mediocre.
A lot of symphonic touches added, guess they wanted to sound more epic.
I dont know if it's cos I kept my expectations too low after VS but this one surprised me in a good way Still, 9 is too high, I'd give it a 7,5 or something.
Derwood - 09.09.2009 at 04:59  
Well written review, though I'd give it an 8-8.5 Definitely stronger than Victory Songs but not as strong as Iron (my favourite from them so far) or Ensiferum.

For my money, "Heathen Throne" is the best track on the album, but I do agree with your comments about the production this time out.
Sentenced Odiin - 09.09.2009 at 17:34  
Currect scoring is the best way to show the rating of albums check it (iron and from afar get 9 points)check it
thesabbathfan - 09.09.2009 at 17:43  
It's a great album. But I feel like they took the song 'The New Dawn' and stretched it out for a whole album.
Sacred Viking - 09.09.2009 at 22:45  
Good score, I like From Afar
ImNotMetal - 10.09.2009 at 06:57  
Ensiferum, they did it again. They prove that they still can make a good album even they changed the member many times.
Dark Cornatus - 11.09.2009 at 01:22  
Sounds promising. I like Victory Songs on the first few listens, but found it very boring after that as there was no real stand out song and the vocals (while pretty good), were too bland and repetitive by the time you listen to a few songs.
I thought Ensiferum was their best album by far, Iron was decent too. Im eager to hear this new one as i see them live at the end of the year.
Dark Cornatus - 12.09.2009 at 11:13  
Ive almost finished listening, and i like it, lets hope it doesnt get boring fast.
BlueMobius - 14.09.2009 at 03:47  
Video is pretty lame and album is subpar.
MétalNoir - 15.09.2009 at 17:34  
Bring back Jari and this album would be Ensiferum's masterpiece. The music is deep and epic, more symphonic than ever, and the long songs are the best ones on the album. Stone Cold Metal is my favourite, with the country part in the middle, it's very original and catchy, I love the weird banjo on it ^^ . That song reminds me of Iron, which also had a cowboy-like part in it. Even though some songs sound generic, the album as a whole is great, I agree with the 9.0 Baz gave.
selken - 15.09.2009 at 21:13  
I've finished listening, this is a hell of an album, it's so good they are keeping their root sound, adding some new elements like symphony and giving a darker sound but as epic as always, This album deserves a spot on those "best of" lists
Wes - 15.09.2009 at 23:07  
Why the hell is Victory Songs rated higher than this?
This is their first good album without Jari, almost their best album.
>_>
Baz Anderson - 16.09.2009 at 11:55  
Written by Wes on 15.09.2009 at 23:07

Why the hell is Victory Songs rated higher than this?
This is their first good album without Jari, almost their best album.
>_>

Read the review. The world doesn't revolve around ratings.
Bear in mind that "Vicrory Songs" review was written when it came out two years ago.
Wes - 16.09.2009 at 20:27  
yes its fine, I agree with your rating actually.

I think Heathen Throne 1 and 2 are better than Victory song.
Victory song sounds like some silly cartoon to me, i need something more serious.

I think the lyrics "We will meet again, across the wilderness" in heathen throne 2 is just as epic and powerful as it gets it music.

Anyway, my bad, just wanted to express how much I think this album kicks Victory Songs ass.
hard_tom - 16.09.2009 at 21:44  
I agree with the rating too, Ensiferum are really a band that cannot disappoint. And I think too this album is better than album "Victory Songs", but (the track) "Victory Song" is my opinion the best song of Ensiferum ever.
Iced Dog - 21.09.2009 at 00:25  
This is by far the best Petri Lindroos era album. Victory Songs was OK, but From Afar destroys it...I've been spinning this album so much recently. They added more symphonic touches, which I like, and the vocals and choirs sound better as well. I disagree with Baz when he says From Afar isn't as catchy as Victory Songs, I think it's the opposite...some great melodies on this one. And the middle section of Stone Cold Metal sounds like an Ennio Morricone spaghetti western, which makes sense considering they thanked Ennio in the booklet. Long live Ensiferum!
Feng - 29.09.2009 at 17:57  
Written by Iced Dog on 21.09.2009 at 00:25

This is by far the best Petri Lindroos era album. Victory Songs was OK, but From Afar destroys it...I've been spinning this album so much recently. They added more symphonic touches, which I like, and the vocals and choirs sound better as well. I disagree with Baz when he says From Afar isn't as catchy as Victory Songs, I think it's the opposite...some great melodies on this one. And the middle section of Stone Cold Metal sounds like an Ennio Morricone spaghetti western, which makes sense considering they thanked Ennio in the booklet. Long live Ensiferum!


My thoughts exactly. Songwriting is suberb and Heathen Throne must be one of the best they've written. I really enjoyed Victory Songs but I think I have a new favourite... this even challenges my personal place of their debut as being the best album.
Ellrohir - 29.09.2009 at 23:55  
I have to listen to it couple more times before i would dare to post such comments...but maybe it will end so, it is really good stuff
wormdrink414 - 23.10.2009 at 07:12  
As is a new trend of mine, my initial reaction to this album was unfair. It's no Ensiferum (the album), but probably the closest the band has come to matching their initial glory since Jari left.
Plaguebearer - 30.10.2009 at 15:54  
Written by danielllewis on 08.09.2009 at 20:31

Lol, why doesn't anybody like victory songs?


I think its just cuz the other albums are so god-like in comparison, so expectations are high (Do'nt worry I like it)
opeth771 - 06.11.2009 at 22:06  
As a dire hard Ensiferum fan, I was kind of disappointed by "From Afar". It surely does make it sound like a very epic journey, but I don't know, after a few listens, I find it a bit boring... Weird thing is, I liked the songs writting better when Jari was there, but I like Petri's voice better...
Asatru - 22.11.2009 at 07:51  
I love From Afar. Stronger musically than Victory Songs, with some of the best melodies in the bands career. I loved Victory Songs, but From Afar is just a masterpiece in terms of musicianship and powerful music.

This is Ensiferum. Petri is kicking ass and the band is as good as it ever was.
treptolemus - 19.12.2009 at 02:56  
A superb album - got it recently, i could not find it, maybe their label is a little bit slow with the distribution! I wish all the best for the fellows;

Ensiferum became one of the best bands. Bravo!
Uirapuru - 04.01.2010 at 19:39  
Its OK. Their sound is still practically the same. Not much to add.

The ones who were not amused before will not change because of From Afar.
Ellrohir - 05.01.2010 at 12:50  
I proclaimed this album 2nd best in 2009 beaten only by Cybion
Hanjak - 08.04.2010 at 08:56  
This album is not so good.... For me it´s a little bit - Disappointment
Destructo - 14.01.2011 at 17:36  
This is a very good album.....I didn't find a single "weak" song here. And "Heathen Throne I and II" are the epitome of epicness !!!
ErnilEnNaur - 12.03.2011 at 22:52  
Very good album. It might have been worth mentioning that it is much more symphonic than their previous releases and might actually appeal to fans of symphonic metal, who aren't normally into folk and/or harsh vocals. Good review too, I agree that Ensiferum really don't know how to disappoint. Let's hope they never develop that "skill".

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