It was with some apprehension that I approached One Man Army, the latest offering from Finnish folk metallers Ensiferum, given that their last album Unsung Heroes just didn’t seem to hit the heights the band are capable of, but thankfully One Man Army shows a return to form for the band, almost picking up where their From Afar album left off whilst also featuring quite an old-school vibe to the music.
There’s some absolutely triumphant songs on there, such as the energetic first full song Axe Of Judgement that features the big instrumental sections and powerful group vocals that Ensiferum are arguably known for. Similarly, Warrior Without A War is a true epic; the keyboards are majestic and the group vocals on this one are impossible not to sing along to whilst punching your fist in the air – incredible stuff.
The highlight of the album has to be the insanely catchy Two Of Spades – I dare you to listen to this song and not want to dance about to it. To say this is a song that will be an absolute riot live is an understatement because it just has such a kick to it and it’s such a fun track! Something interesting to note about the track is that it also features guest vocals from a Finnish disco singer, Frederik, and his voice fits in perfectly during the cheesy disco section in the middle – so if you’ve been worrying about how on earth a vocalist such as him, then don’t, because he adds a lot to an already impressive song.
Of course, it’s not all good news because in all honesty, the album takes a bit of a dip during the final tracks. Descendants, Defiance, Domination, which is also the longest track of the album, takes a long time to properly get going and it’s a definite struggle to maintain interest as the song progresses because it just drags so much. Then the following track Neito Pohjolan, which features guest vocals from ex-Turisas accordionist Netta Skog, just sounds out of place and like it doesn’t belong on the album. The song itself isn’t the most engaging due to its simplicity, and whilst Netta does give a good vocal performance, her voice doesn’t quite work with the music and it’s disappointing. Additionally, whilst the cover songs at the end of the album are a lot of fun, they feel like they’ve been tacked onto the release rather than having their own place.
As a whole, One Man Army is a good album (and certainly better than their last effort) but there’s definitely room for improvement. Still, it’s definitely worth checking out because there’s some truly mighty songs on there – this will definitely do well for the band.