The band celebrates its' 20th anniversary with this best-of album, whose title nods towards the meaning of the band's name (basically, Ensiferum translates to "sword bearer" in Latin). This compilation contains songs from both "eras" of the band's history, pertaining to the tenures of former vocalist/guitarist Jari Mäenpää (who incidentally provided harsh and clean vocals during his stint) and current harsh vocalist/guitarist Petri Lindroos. Although music fans tend to speak harshly of a band's transition from one singer providing both harsh and clean vocals, to two vocalists for each vocal type (Scar Symmetry is another example), Ensiferum adjusted well and kept their distinctive sound.
The four tracks from the Jari era ("Token of Time", "Iron", "Lai Lai Hei", and "Treacherous Gods") seem to have quieter vocals than the others; this is due to the mix, as Jari is an accomplished vocalist. I am not particularly fond of this one aspect, but it does help show how the mixes have improved throughout the band's illustrious career. Everything else is perfect, from the riffs and chords with a lovely mix of melody and assertiveness, to the on-point drums, to the traditional folk sounds that accent the music, rather than overpower the metal like many bands that are popular with the folk metal crowd. The same can be said about all of the songs on this release. However, the only other thing that I remotely dislike is the seemingly random order of the tracks; most people, especially longtime Ensiferum fans, wouldn't care, but new fans of the band (and people like me, who have OCD) would surely prefer if the tracks were in chronological order.
My rating: 8.5/10
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