Released: 2004, Spinefarm Records
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
I bet one of the most anticipated albums, at least amongst all people of folk´ish metal sounds, gotta be this Ensiferum´s follow-up album to very successful their self-titled debut album which was released in 2001 already. Most of the album has been recorded and mixed at Sweet Silence Studios by Flemming Rasmussen who has also produced Metallica´s MASTER OF PUPPETS album, except acoustic instruments and some of the vocal parts were recorded at Beyond Abilities Studios by a guide of Janne Wirman (Children of Bodom).
All this, as some tiny technical credits, but how´s the main thing on the album then... the music, I mean? The question is, have all of our expectations been fulfilled toward Ensiferum´s 2nd album as far as its musical content is concerned? Well, what I know for sure, mine are anyway; IRON truly does rock as wholeness. There´s simply just no doubts of it!! Whether it´s as good or even better than their debut album, I need yet to decide; haven´t made up my mind concerning the greatness of it yet.
IRON is opened a very beautiful yet somewhat epic “Ferrum Aeturnum” which MUST be one of coolest opening intros for any metal bands that have ever managed to touch where a rich-sounding Folk music and Heavy Metal have become one in the very same soil. The album´s title track, “Iron” follows and it´s unquestionably one of the most catchiest and memorable tunes that these Finnish pioneers of masterful sounds of both amazing Folk –melodies and superb classic Heavy Metal passages that just flow so effortlessly throughout the whole song that you nearly loose both consciousness of time and place. Even the choir parts in this song are very well thought-out and bring in a more pompous atmosphere which this song actually needs as well.
Up next, “Sword Chant” which basically greatly brings up Ensiferum´s sense for a truly outstanding abuse of killer melody lines both in an absolutely splendid Folk – and somewhat an aggressive Heavy Metal music. There´s also some vocal parts in “Sword Chant” that funnily do remind me of Grave Digger´s Chris Boltendahl with those certain type of crispy, ´semi-high-pitched´ vocal parts. This particular song also happens to be one of my very favorite cuts off IRON.
“Mourning Heart – Interlude” offers a listener a beautifully played interlude before a sweetly thundering folk´ish Heavy/Power/Black Metal storm called “Tale of Revenge” which also became the band´s first single off IRON. From the song´s calm waters, the song catapults itself toward a storming horizon which is nothing, but a few more drops into your already wet pants.
In “Lost in Despair” we are about to witness the Ensiferum -bunch stepping deep down into the world of melancholy, just to return back from there again storming and shaking the ground at your feet in “Slayer of Light” which contains lots of intense riffages and mind-sticking melodies provided by the band´s dynamic axe masters Jari and Markus, leading us next “Into Battle”, which contains many airy up-tempo parts that f.ex. German ´pirate-metallers´ Running Wild tend to seed around everywhere in their own sound.
“LAI LAI HEI” could be considered the album most epic tune in which a non-Finnish listener needs to sharpen his/her ears due to some vocal parts in it that have been sung in Finnish. From a beautiful, folk -sounding beginning the song grows soon toward faster tempos that have been spiced by nearly ´happy´ nuances ´til an absolutely chorus part kind of manages to ´steal the show´ which it´s almost a crime.
“Tears” introduces us a female singer who even probably might be the band´s keyboard player Meiju Enho even if I cannot proclaim that as a fact simply because I don´t know that for sure. However, it fits perfectly for IRON´s closer song; it´s a ballad, a very beautifully executed ballad song with a folk´ish musical background where this female in question sounds amazingly fabulous and overall even manages to melt my heart somewhat perfectly, even causing some sentimental vibes in my mind at the very same time. I hope Ensiferum ends up using her great voice more on their records in the future, whoever this mysterious lady is.
If you were a fan of their debut album, I bet you´re going to like IRON as much or even more as it definitely isn´t a letdown album from them by any means compared to their highly liked self-titled debut. It´s certain that ´A+ quality´ has been branded into IRON by a red-hot Viking sword, just go and taste the blade of it by yourself!