Ensiferum - From Afar review



Reviewer:
9.0

805 users:
8.34
Band: Ensiferum
Album: From Afar
Release date: 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.

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Folk metal
Spinefarm Records
Finland
Length: 56:34


Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 9
Production: 9


 



Written on 08.09.2009 by Member of Staff since 2006.


Comments page 2 / 2

Comments: 43   Visited by: 653 users
21.09.2009 - 00:25
Iced Dog
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!
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29.09.2009 - 17:57
Feng
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.
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29.09.2009 - 23:55
Ellrohir
Heaven Knight
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
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So behold the flight of the sapphire dragon
soaring through the skies once again


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23.10.2009 - 07:12
wormdrink414
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.
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30.10.2009 - 15:54
Plaguebearer
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)
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06.11.2009 - 22:06
opeth771
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...
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22.11.2009 - 07:51
Asatru
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.
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19.12.2009 - 02:56
treptolemus
aphotic_zoning
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!
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\m/etalstor\m/
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04.01.2010 - 19:39
Uirapuru
Liver Failure
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.
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member of the true crusade against old school heavy metal, early 80s thrash, NWOBHM, traditional doom, first and second wave black metal, old school death metal, US power metal, 70s prog rock and atmospheric doomsludgestoner. o/
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05.01.2010 - 12:50
Ellrohir
Heaven Knight
I proclaimed this album 2nd best in 2009 beaten only by Cybion
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So behold the flight of the sapphire dragon
soaring through the skies once again


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08.04.2010 - 08:56
Hanjak
This album is not so good.... For me it´s a little bit - Disappointment
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14.01.2011 - 17:36
Destructo
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 !!!
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12.03.2011 - 22:52
ErnilEnNaur
Account deleted
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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