Ensiferum are one of those bands that, while not being prog, play such an epic brand of metal, they appeal to me and many progheads. Consistency has been a strength. Ensiferum are either balls to the wall viking metal or reflective folk metal based on how the battle went.
The band released their music on Spinefarm Records up until their last album “One Man Army” which saw them get signed by Metal Blade Records. It’s a wonder they weren’t signed sooner. Spinefarm put together this comprehensive retrospective that not only covers each album on their label but also tracks from the album released on Metal Blade.
Reviewing live albums and compilations are not something that I believe deserve a rating number because they cover ground that has already been critiqued. But the question on a release like this is how well does the song selection represent the band? While I am sure fans will debate the omission of one or more of their favorite tracks (where the fuck is “Unsung Heroes”?), the bottom line is that this does feature the band doing what they do best.
The folkier side of the band is present on tracks like “Twilight Tavern” and of course the “ride into battle” side is all over the place like on “In My Sword I Trust.” But I really love that “Two of Spades” was included. This is my favorite track on “One Man Army” because it shows that even after all of these albums, Ensiferum are able to experiment. Viking disco at its best.
I wish the album was a double album however. The band have some really long epic tracks and only “Victory Song” is present to showcase that very important side of the band. Putting the “Heathen Throne” trilogy together on one disc would have been REALLY cool. But bonus points given for including the title track from the “Dragonheads” EP, which is one of my favorite songs. Each studio album does get its due.
“Two Decades of Greatest Sword Hits” is an excellent representation of Ensiferum. It makes a good place for people to go if they are unfamiliar with the band. Fans of the band really won’t need this compilation as it doesn’t feature any unreleased or new material. It does, however, showcase a fun and amazing talented metal band doing what they do best.
1. By The Dividing Stream
2. From Afar
3. Heathen Horde
4. One More Magic Potion
5. In My Sword I Trust
6. Token Of Time
8. Twilight Tavern
9. Burning Leaves
10. Treacherous Gods
11. Lai Lai Hei
12. Two Of Spades
14. Victory Song
Label: Spinefarm Records
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