Isenmor - Land of the Setting Sun - (8/10)
Published on June 11, 2015
Genre:Folk / Death
Baltimore is the home of one the US’ latest entries into the folk metal fray, coming along under the name of Isenmor. The Maryland-based sextet is throwing its debut EP Land of the Setting Sun to the wolves and accompany it with the following promotional excerpt: “Vinlandic Folk Metal. Combining elements of folk metal greats Ensiferum, Heidevolk, Eluveitie, Falkenbach, and Tyr, Isenmor fuses the heart of the Old World with the spirit of those who sought out new shores.”
Upon listening to the five songs of their first offering, it actually is not that easy to pinpoint where the influences really lie. The violin is their folk weapon of choice and they do not put it smack in your face at every point in every song, but show some good restraint and actually use it very tastefully as accent and as a lead instrument, where it fits the song. Isenmor also do not fall into the rut many of their contemporaries do, which is staying stuck at top speed and just hoping that the happy-go-lucky attitude and energy would cover up any shortcomings on the composition side of things. Instead they offer a surprisingly varied approach to the genre that does differ from the “old world” bands ploughing this field.
Opener “Death is a Fine Companion” sets off with blastbeats and gruff vocals, which then are supplemented by a choir, but staying cohesive throughout, whereas “Pyre” takes a slower and almost hymnic approach and the title track sees an increased use of the violin for another varied song, where the growls dominate, but the choir in the chorus gives it another interesting dimension. No song sounds like the other (which with a 5-track EP is obviously easier than a full album), yet the Americans manage to make it all sound coherent and that is one thing that really shows the band’s true talent.
Land of the Setting Sun shows that Isenmor may still have some work ahead of them, but it undoubtedly displays some serious talent, since the band proves that they are not just content with rehashing what their role models have been doing for years, but taking these influences and run with them. While they do not go to as great lengths as their Bostonian colleagues of Wilderun, Isenmor, too, prove that the US folk metal scene has a lot of talent to offer that is willing to put in the time and effort to find their own way.
Add Isenmor to the list of talented bands to keep an eye on and Land of the Setting Sun is a great start to a hopefully bright career!