Ensiferum is a true powerhouse when it comes to folk-inspired melodic death metal, something they hammer home more resolutely than ever with eighth full-length Thalassic. The title translating from ancient Greek as “of or relating to seas”, it’s a suitably huge and wide-ranging collection that incorporates orchestrations and traditional folk instrumentation alongside the roaring guitars, bass, and drums. “I think we managed to take another step ahead musically and we also utilized the best parts of our old sound,” states bassist/vocalist Sami Hinkka. “There are lots of Ensiferum’s trademarks: beautiful folkish melodies, ass-kicking riffs, a nice mix of different vocals, and great singalong choruses.”
It’s been three years since the towering Two Paths and the quintet kept themselves busy writing over that period. Viewing Two Paths and its predecessor One Man Army (2015) as being something of a pair, this time out they wanted to jump into the unknown and try a new approach, without forgetting their roots. Kicking the album off with the grand orchestral piece “Seafarer’s Dream” definitely makes an impression, though overall Thalassic scales back a little on such instrumentation.
“I guess that has become kind of a part of Ensiferum’s sound, but on this album we actually used orchestrations less than before because the songs turned out to be more straightforward metal. We like to emphasize the story and the feeling of a song with the sounds that fit them best, so using huge orchestrations has to serve the purpose of the song and not be taken for granted and used all the time.”
The likes of “Rum, Women, Victory” and “Run From The Crushing Tide” are certainly full on metal, but these sit comfortably alongside the jaunty “Midsummer Magic” and triumphant “Andromeda”. The band was helped in realizing these tracks by the addition of new keyboard player/lead clean vocalist Pekka Montin who “really raised the new songs to another level” while Mikko P. Mustonen once again presided over the orchestrations and violin virtuoso Lassi Logren recorded folk instruments on a few tracks.
There are many good classic sounding Ensiferum riffs, chanting vocals, sea shanties, and epic tales of conquest that are to be heard on this record! Beginning with an intro of ocean sounds which leads into a track where the title tells it all “Rum, Women, Victory”.
The song kicks off with a drum and guitar build up, a power metal scream then it jumps into fast double bass drumming and melodic riffage. Guitar harmonies develop as the headbanging tempo continues onward. Immediately you are thrown into this epic journey with lyrics depicting heroic conquest over the seven seas and the tallest mountains.
“Andromeda” starts with an acoustic jig, and becomes a tale about a legendary queen. some more cool melodic fast-paced guitar riffage here “The Defence of the Sampo”, begins with a galloping riff, then enters an inspirational eve of battle speech lyrics and a vocal chorus sings the refrain. You get the feeling of being on a pirate ship traveling on an epic journey, the song then takes an orchestral interlude that sounds oddly like it could be in a western movie, but still sounds cool. Finally, it goes to a final repeat of the refain for a triumphant finish
Run from the Crushing Tide, this is a run for your life song with more fast galloping guitar riffs For Sirens is on the heavier side with lyric references to greek myth about the alluring call of sirens to your doom.
One with the Sea begins with acoustic guitars and strings then comes in heavy guitar riffage and large orchestral sounding drums. Then enters a slower ballad. The song is a lament of the past, with orchestrations making this song sound very large. It continues on as a slow march repeating the main chorus
Midsummer Magic, this song is a sea shanty turned into a metal song, with chorus chanting, lyrics about running naked in the fields, women, and drinking, which is totally the right vibe in my opinion. What else would a seafaring pirate sing about?
Cold Northland begins with a piano solo and wind sounds, then the full band enters with the guitar playing the main melody as orchestral instruments add ornaments and flourishes around the metal riffage. This is the epic final track
This album has many great moments, with fast guitars and drumwork serving as the main backbone of the songs to which then orchestrations then add more beefy fullness to the heavier riffs and flourishing ornaments during the ballads. A few unexpected moments and sea shanties mixed into the album make it even more fun and interesting listen. With Nine tracks of marching into battle music and conquering the seas plus, two bonus tracks, make this a great addition to any fan of the folk metal genre.