Album Review – Isenmor / Land of the Setting Sun EP (2015)

It’s time to fight, dance around the fire and get drunk to the Vinlandic Folk Metal by this brand new American band.

Rating5

ISENMOR - Land of the Setting Sun cover artWhen you think of Folk Metal or Viking music, I bet your mind travels immediately to the fascinating Scandinavia, in special to Finland where many amazing bands such as Finntroll, Ensiferum, Korpiklaani and Turisas were bred. However, it seems those fresh winds are turning to North America through the Vinlandic Folk Metal by American band Isenmor, who before being just a band are proud to be a tribute to Vinland, the region of the northeastern coast of North America that was visited in the 11th century by Norsemen led by Leif Ericsson, and named from the report that grapevines were found growing there. You’re not going crazy, there’s a band playing Folk Metal that wasn’t born in Scandinavia or another European country, but in the United States, and those guys definitely know what they’re doing.

Formed in May 2014 and after releasing their first demo in the same year, this Maryland-based band offers now to their fans their first EP, entitled Land of the Setting Sun, where of course you’ll find good heavy music strengthened by classic themes and tales of battle, adventure, sorrow and infinite amounts of drinking. And in order to make things even more likeable and amusing, Isenmor have not only one, but TWO crazy violinists, Nick Schneider and Miles Waldman, who will put you to dance to the sound of their frenetic instruments. In other words, are you ready to have some pints with this unique American sextet?

The opening track, Death is a Fine Companion, is also my favorite one of all five, and don’t you agree that the name of the song truly incorporates the Viking spirit? Anyway, this exciting chant showcases a strong Folk vein with a Death Metal sounding that increases the music’s electricity, with its chorus making me want to grab my sword, shield and beer (or even mead) mug and sing it along with the band (“Death is a fine companion / When he comes for the foe / But keep your welcome warm / When he comes for you”). Singing about death and the journey of a warrior to Valhalla, the slow and melancholic Folk tune Pyre presents to the listener a great chemistry between the violin duo, whose lines transpire the throes of death, and all other instruments, especially the guitar riffs by Tim Regan and the beats by BG Drakeley.

Land of the Setting Sun is perfect for dancing around a fire pit with your loved ones, with both harsh and clean vocals blending perfectly with what the band is proposing with the music, while So Willingly Deceived deserves to be part of the soundtrack of the next Thor movie. It’s a beautiful Viking semi-ballad about the burdens of being a true warrior (“Hear the Thunder in the Sky / The sound of Donar’s mighty strikes / Through all the Nine worlds he rides / As he defends all of mankind”), with highlights to the violins together with the keyboards dictating the rhythm and sadness of the song.

ISENMOR band photoAnd finally, there’s nothing better than a fast and joyful song about drinking to conclude a Viking album, which is the case in The Old Mead Hall. Fans of Folk Metal will have a good time during Isenmor’s live performances, enjoying a cold beer while listening to this delightful display of camaraderie and a fun celebration of victory. The whole band is on fire in this song, but it’s the violins that end up standing out once again for our total delight.

It doesn’t really matter if you have Viking blood flowing through your veins or not, you should go check their Facebook page and also buy their brand new EP at their BandCamp page, as there are many cool options available worth your hacksilver. The full BandCamp digital EP includes acoustic versions of “Pyre” and “So Willingly Deceived”, while the CD version includes covers of Ensiferum’s “In My Sword I Trust” and Eluveitie’s “Havoc”, as well as the aforementioned acoustic songs. And did I mention there’s an “IsenPackage” which also includes a pint glass with the Isenmor logo emblazoned upon it and an Isenmor t-shirt? To sum up, what are you waiting for to grab your sword, dance around the fire pit with your close friends and get completely drunk to the music by Isenmor?

Best moments of the album: Death is a Fine Companion and The Old Mead Hall.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Independent

Track listing
1. Death is a Fine Companion 4:24
2. Pyre 4:34
3. Land of the Setting Sun 5:15
4. So Willingly Deceived 5:00
5. The Old Mead Hall 3:35

Band members
Tim Regan – guitar, vocals
Mike Wilson – bass, vocals
Nick Schneider – violin, mandolin, vocals
Miles Waldman – violin
Jon Lyon – keyboards, vocals
BG Drakeley – drums