Ensiferum - _One Man Army_
(Metal Blade, 2015)
by: Julia Semprich (7 out of 10)
Ensiferum have spiked their sixth studio album _One Man Army_ with all the ingredients that made most their previous albums successful: powerful speedy passages, catchy folk melodies and ample growling supported by choirs. The outcome is a solid release, but not without a few Ensiferum specific surprises.

After the short atmospheric intro "March of War", Ensiferum present their speedy, fierce side in "Axe of Judgement" with ample double bass and aggressive growls, at times supported by choral backing vocals. The second track "Heathen Horde", however, does not keep up the speed, and instead focuses on slower passages with choirs to properly represent the horde the title suggests. The title track picks up more speed again, with playful guitar solos in the middle part. After "Burden of the Fallen", a short acoustic interlude, follow two typical Ensiferum songs loaded with growls, choirs and catchy tunes. "Cry for the Earth Bounds" employs additional female vocals, which some fans may need to get used to. The band's humor surfaces on "Two of Spades", which changes midway into '70s disco music including the obligatory whistling, clapping and shouting. On "Descendants, Defiance, Domination", an almost eleven and a half minute piece, Ensiferum seem to unwrap all of their musical repertory while giving more space to atmospheric instrumental passages. The album comes to an unusual end with Finnish tango. Netta Skog (former Turisas) sings and plays the accordion on "Neito Pohjolan". The bonus material includes two cover versions ("Rawhide" and "Warmetal"), an English version of the tango called "Candour and Lies" and a "Bonus Song" with a good portion of humor and self-mockery.

Overall, _One Man Army_ is an entertaining release that occasionally picks up more speed than its predecessor. Some songs, however, seem a bit overloaded with choirs and battle shouts and, apart from a few nice unexpected passages, Ensiferum seem to mostly resort to their well-established sound instead of trying out new and more innovative ideas. Nevertheless, those who have enjoyed the band's previous releases will find ample of enjoyable moments on _One Man Army_.

Contact: http://www.ensiferum.com/

(article published 2/5/2015)

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