Thanks to folk metal’s maturation, the most thrilling elements no longer come from the novelty factor but from knowing that it harnesses some of the most infectious ingredients of metal: singalong choruses, jig-inducing tempos and bombast.
This Ensiferum compilation doesn’t mess around with obscure ‘surprise tracks’ or momentum-killing album fillers. The rousing, string-laden instrumental By The Dividing Stream is an epic start but it can’t match the killer chorus on newbie Heathen Horde, which is one of their best songs to date. Representing old-school Ensiferum, Iron and Dragonheads bring raw power into the mix, while Burning Leaves brings the guitars to the fore. The exclusion of Axe Of Judgement and Ahti is a slight letdown, but there’s more than enough to showcase the best bits of two decades of fine Finnish folk metal.