July 7, 2020 Ensiferum – Thalassic (Album Review)
Ensiferum, whose name in Latin means ‘Sword Bearing’, is a striking Folk-inspired Melodic Death Metal band hailing from Helsinki, Finland. Originally formed some twenty-five years ago, Ensiferum has made a career of combining elements of Folk music with the thunderous world of Viking, Power, and Melodic Death Metal. That in mind, over the last two decades plus, Ensiferum has been quite busy; releasing seven albums, beginning with their eponymous 2001 debut, plus have shared stages with the likes of Amon Amarth and Megadeth. These days, Ensiferum is passionate about the release of their brand new LP, Thalassic, dropping Friday, July 10th, 2020 via the legendary Metal Blade Records.
Arriving as the eighth addition to their catalog, Thalassic was recorded at Finland’s Petrax and Sonic Pump Studios with seasoned Producer Janne Joutsenniemi, who previously worked with Ensiferum on 2007’s Victory Songs and 2009’s From Afar. For those interested, the album title of Thalassic is a Greek term that refers to something which relates to the seas.
Attempting to bring their music to the next level, Ensiferum took this opportunity to deliberately build the music of Thalassic around a certain theme. For some time, some have actually questioned whether or not Ensiferum’s previous material was meant to be conceptual; some of the stories and dramatic orchestration led many to believe there was a bigger picture behind the music. In the end, after a lot of hard work finding the right story and keeping the bands trademark emphasis of triumph in the mix, Ensiferum were incredibly pleased with the final result of Thalassic.
From the start, Thalassic embodies an emphatic story of the high seas. This makes the cinematic orchestral opener known as “Seafarer’s Dream” a fine introduction. Then, right from the second song, “Rum, Women, Victory,” long time fans will feel as though Ensiferum has officially shifted into the realm of Pirate Metal with this high velocity track. “Andromeda” comes in next with more entertaining Folk melody before “The Defiance of the Sampo” brings elevated drama and a battle with sea monsters into the mix.
Not slowing down the pace, “Run from the Crushing Tide” is abrasively big along before “For Sirens” and a heavy start from “One with the Sea.” In kind, Ensiferum deliver a more jovial sound on “Midsummer Magic” before the epic “Cold Northland (Vainamoinen Part III)” takes this adventure to a climax. Lastly, Thalassic closes out with the bonus tracks “Merille Lahteva” and “I’ll Stay by Your Side,” both worthy additions.
For those familiar with Ensiferum’s prior releases, Thalassic’s high seas theme might be a little surprising. Furthermore, their usual Folk-inspired melodies may cause some to find Ensiferum to now sound a little more like Pirate Metal stalwarts Alestorm. However, many long time followers, as well as new fans, will likely appreciate the undeniably well-produced huge sound, clever melodies, enormous chorus action, and the interesting picture Thalassic paints for the imagination. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock awards Thalassic 3.5 out of 5 stars.