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In the current age of special edition albums with bonus material, which is largely just a rehash of the packaging deal that most bands make with Japanese distribution as a gratuity for their continued loyalty to all things metal, poor little singles like this one just don’t seem to have staying power. Nevertheless, for those rabid Ensiferum fans who couldn’t wait the extra month to get the full deal on “Iron”, their second and highly heralded studio effort, this was actually a very substantial preview of the majesty that would be on display.
“Tale Of Revenge” underscores exactly what the whole of “Iron” was; an expansion on a perfect format that added a tiny bit more than was necessary, but still kept the important aspects front and center. It’s really something of a composite song that incorporates both the slow and sorrowful aspects of “Eternal Wait” with a denser keyboard presence, and then bursts into a dramatically thrashing conclusion in something of the same vain as that closing minute of “Battle Song”, but with a meaner guitar sound and twice the triumph in the synthesized brass and string elements. It wouldn’t have been out of place to include this song in the soundtrack of “The 13th Warrior”, had it been recorded several years earlier.
But while the amazing preview of what would become the methodical storytelling of Viking exploits to folksy melodies and power/thrash riffs, the highlight proves to be the incredibly faithful yet inventive cover of Metallica’s “Battery”. Apart from a few blackened shouts here and there, a gang chorus of drunken Finns, and a few period instrument sections here and there, this is a blistering reassertion of the spirit of mid 80s thrash, complete with a mean percussive riff assault. This is literally the best this song has sounded since it was first recorded back in the primordial days of 1986, and completely destroys any cover of it I’ve heard since.
While perhaps not the most admired among the elite guard of metal’s fringe mystique, this is a band that definitely offers a good balance of extreme and accessible metallic elements. One could almost assert that Ensiferum function as the bridge that successfully straddles the gulf between power metal and melodic black metal. But regardless to what genre you want to compare this to, this screams to go out and pick up a copy of “Iron” if you haven’t already, and make sure it’s the one with the Metallica cover as a bonus track.