By Samuel Stevens & Kyle Erickson
Release Date: July 10, 2020
Genre: Folk Metal, Viking Metal
Label: Metal Blade Records
The Finnish folk metal legends Ensiferum are readying the release of their eighth full length album, Thalassic. The Greek word Thalassic translates to, “of or relating to the sea.” This marks Ensiferum’s first album to ever revolve around one set theme, this theme being water or the sea. The idea of the album revolving around one central theme was that of bassist Sami Hinkka. Hinkka has always been in charge of the band’s lyrics for some time now and once again tackled them head on. He brought the idea to the band as the initial songwriting of the album began and the other members enjoyed it so much, they rolled with it. The band is always reinventing their sound and with band’s newest addition to the line up, Pekka Montin (keyboards, clean vocals) has breathed new life into the band’s songwriting overall.
Artist Gyula Havanchak once again handled the album’s artwork continuing to raise the bar from album, after album. Havanchak created something that vividly reflects the songs, the stories, and most importantly the theme of the sea. Once again the orchestrations on Thalassic were handled by composer Mikko P. Mustonen, while also on Thalassic, all the violin and other assortments of folk instruments were recorded by Lassi Logren. Thalassic was recorded at both Petrax Studios and Sonic Pump Studios, and after eleven long years the band tapped Janne Joutsenniemi to produce the latest effort. Joutsenniemi last produced for the band on their two previous albums, Victory Songs and From Afar.
“It was time to get a fresh start kinda with this album, We have a new member in the band, and we wanted to try just a totally different approach, and working with Janne back in the day was really cool, and it was this time also …so that also gave a nice boost to the Ensiferum album,” states frontman Petri Lindroos.
Following a three minute long beautiful and strong sounding intro number that begins with the sound of rushing water, a slow melodic acoustic guitar comes in before a hefty amount of orchestration swifts into the fold. The intro track titled, “Seafarer’s Dream,” is just the beginning before the album shifts into an entirely different gear with the album’s lead single, “Run, Women, Victory.” The track begins the voyage of the album’s recurring theme of the sea with an almost sea shanty type track about being ready to fight for your leader in war upon the open seas. In this case fighting for the album’s recurring character, the Queen. “We rule the Seven Seas! / Swords high for our Queen! / Shout for what we live / Rum, women, victory!”
“It’s a very kick ass song, it’s very fast, very melodic, it also introduces our new guy, Pekka. Lindroos, continues on.
The album’s second single, “Andromeda” touches more on the album’s characters, especially the Queen named, Andromeda. Continuing it’s track on the theme of water, the track is about a sea creature becoming a threat towards the Queen and her men need to go to war with the monster to keep her safe. It’s also worth noting that in Greek mythology, Andromeda is the daughter of the king of the Kingdom of Kush; Cepheus and his wife Cassiopeia. “You shall not harm the maiden of my dreams / Come and face your demise, monster of the deep.”
Songs on Thalassic like “The Defence of the Sampo,” “One with the Sea,” “Midsummer Magic,” “Andromeda,” and even one of the bonus tracks, “Merille Lahveta,” feature the majority of the album’s folky instrumental work. “The Defence of the Sampo” I believe touches on the magical artifact of the same name within Finnish mythology. The Sampo was a construct made of unspecified materials and tools, made by Ilmarinen that brought riches and good fortune to it’s holder. In this instance, a man that’s with war with the sea creature keeping his Queen safe, mentioned in the track “Andromeda” is in possession of the Sampo.
“One with the Sea” is a slow and melodic tune and one of the album’s few tracks to be fully sung with clean vocals. The track “Midsummer Magic” has an almost medieval sound, but doubles as another sea shanty, that’s endlessly catchy and the vocals bounce between Petri, Sami, and Pekka. Lastly, “Midsummer Magic” features the use of Finnish singing. The first of two bonus tracks, “Merille Lahveta,” features a similar style of folk instruments as “Midsummer Magic” and is entirely spoken word in Finnish. “Merille Lahveta” translates to “Sea to Sow.” The second bonus track, “I’ll Stay By Your Side,” however doesn’t feature any folk elements leads towards a more heavy metal ballad vibe, showcasing the use of powerful clean vocals.
While the aforementioned songs feature most of the album’s folk elements, the majority of the orchestration pieces by Mikko P. Mustonen that are featured within the album can be heard of course on the intro track “Seafarer’s Dream,” “For Sirens,” and the album’s ninth and final track, “Cold Northland (Väinämöinen Part III), which is also the third installment in the band’s “Väinämöinen” saga. The first two installments “Old Man” and “Little Dreamer,” appear back-to-back on their self-titled first album from 2001.
While the band want’s nothing more to get upon a stage to perform their new material in front of a live audience, they can’t tour like every other musician in the world right now. The band, their management, and Metal Blade Records have been cooking up ideas and Ensiferum will have their first ever live steam concert that will go live tomorrow coinciding with the album’s release. Ensiferum will be performing a selection of new, classic, and rare tracks live from Sonic Pump Studios in Helsinki, Finland. Check out their social media pages for more info on the stream and on purchasing your ticket to watch this unique live concert from the comfort of your own home.
“It sucks of course, that we aren’t able to go out and play these songs right away. But otherwise, I don’t see any issue releasing it on July 10th because people still need new music to hear, especially at this time right now. I think it’s going to be really good that new music is going to be published, just for that reason. And people are going to have more time on their hands, a lot of people can’t work right now, so I see that one as at least a little bit positive, right now. And I think this album will do just that [help people get through the pandemic], says Lindroos.