• Ensiferum - Suomi Warmetal (2014) - Respectable supplement to an outstanding magazine - 50% (30/12/14)

    Ensiferum - Suomi Warmetal (2014)

    "Suomi Warmetal" is a nice gimmick included in the ninety-fourth edition of the German "Legacy" magazine which is in my humble opinion the very best metal magazine that always delivers value for money each two months by including multiple posters, at least two and in this case even four CDs, and far over two hundred pages covering almost all genres and underground bands as much as the most famous names for a fair price. This exclusive Ensiferum EP includes four cover songs recorded as limited bonus tracks over the past few years with slightly different line-ups.

    "Warmetal" is a brand new cover song which will be included on the limited edition of the upcoming "One Man Army" full length studio release in February 2015. It's a cover of the rather unknown Finnish black and doom metal band Barathrum, taken from their "Infernal" record from 1997 but the original version of this song had already been recorded as early as 1993. The cover of the occult extreme metal song is simplistic but convinces with atmospheric bleak keyboard sounds and fast extreme metal instrumental parts. Apart of a short break including sound samples from a tavern, this song has nothing to do with Ensiferum's usual folk metal. This cover could also come from any ordinary Scandinavian melodic death metal band and is therefor not really impressive. At least it sounds better than the dumb and stereotypical original.

    The cover of Iron Maiden's "Wratchchild" also suffers from the fact that Ensiferum don't include any epic folk melodies and limit themselves to a generic melodic death metal sound. In addition to this, the world really doesn't need any Iron Maiden cover anymore and only very few bands such as Driving Mrs. Satan are still able to add their own creative spirit to heavy metal classics. Needless to add that it's nearly impossible to reach the high quality of the best heavy metal band in the world.

    Uriah Heep's "Lady in Black" is easily the best cover on this short release. It features laid back acoustic guitar melodies, appeasing clean vocals, warm choirs and soft keyboard layers before the songs evolves with stomping mid-tempo guitar riffs and a few faster drum parts. It's a song that truly sounds like Ensiferum and that could easily fit as a folk ballad on a regular version of their albums. There is only one little problem: Uriah Heep's mysterious, rhythmic and warm original version is much better than this cover effort. 

    The last track is a cover of Judas Priest's "Breaking the Law", an overrated song from an overrated record that has been covered too many times which is a sad thing as the British heavy metal legend has released a streak of impressive pioneer records in the late seventies that get rarely covered. Ensiferum's version of the hit is one of the better reinterpretations. The bass guitar play is dominating, the back choirs and keyboards are epic and the short break where we hear a horse even adds a funny touch to this folk metal version. In contrast to the first two songs on this EP, Ensiferum manages again to make this version sound like their own.

    In the end, we get to hear two good cover songs where Ensiferum succeed in adding their own epic folk metal touch to the iconic originals and two weaker reinterpretations where Ensiferum sound like any other exchangeable melodic extreme metal band from Scandinavia. This release is a nice gimmick for collectors and a respectable supplement to an outstanding metal magazine but otherwise, this record is everything but essential or exciting.

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