I first came across Ensiferum when I was in high school, way back in 2004 (16 years ago… jeez!). A mate of mine who was a little bit older had a few of the boys round for a games and metal night, as you did when you were in your early teens, and some time through the evening, he put a new album on by a band I had never heard of: That Album was “Iron”, by Ensiferum.
This was my first serious introduction to the folk/ Viking metal genre and “Iron” to this day remains one of my all-time favourite albums (and songs, for that matter, as the title track is amazing). It was like nothing I’d ever heard before; a reaction we rarely have nowadays of something like “Wait, you can actually do this with music?!”. It was awesome.
The band had been going strong up to that point and have been going strong since, and 2020 saw the release of their 8th studio offering “Thalassic”. Roughly translated, Thalassic means “from or of the sea”, no small coincidence because this album is indeed themed as such, a first for Ensiferum.
It opens with the soft and melodic “Seafarers Dream”, becomes epic in parts with the likes of “Cold Northland” and fiendishly heavy in others. There are elements of fun with “Midsummer Magic”, plenty of talk about women, relationships, the nature of life and the struggles therein. There is excellent musicianship throughout, whilst the trademark Ensiferum sound is etched into the bone.
What took me by surprise here is the obvious way in which the theme came after the songs. In many ways, the album is as much a philosophical journey through the many mysteries of life as it is a fantastical chronicle of seafaring antics, and precisely because the album was built around a message, and not a message built around the album, there is an honest and relatable depth to it. Just listen to “For Sirens” and tell me it doesn’t speak to you. Exactly.
And it works, man. It really does.
For me, I could listen to Thalassic on repeat. I think they have smashed it out the park with this offering. The thematic styling works super well for the kind of music Ensiferum play, and I’d love to see more to be honest. Maybe have this as a trilogy of albums centred around the elements? Who knows, but what we do know, is that if you’re a fan of the Viking/folk metal genre then this is an absolute must listen!
Ensiferum – Thalassic is out now via Metalblade Records.