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WLM Reviews: Ensiferum – Two Paths

September 9, 2017

I occasionally mention expectations when it comes to album reviews. Bands that you know and love (or hate) often surprise or disappoint based on what you expect. While Finnish Folk Metal kings Ensiferum have yet to completely disappoint me, the last couple of albums lacked a certain something. How does Two Paths stack up?

It sounds like Ensiferum has taken the folk melodies and elements up a step on their second effort for Metal Blade Records compared to their other recent recordings. They certainly established their credentials many years ago and I think with Two Paths, they’ve taken a turn back to those days while maintaining a bit of their recent style as well. Ensiferum has always had an epic streak in them and here it is solidified. The key is the songwriting and the infectious melodies they employ. While they have always had clean vocals, they are much more prevalent on this album.

The songs on Two Paths tend to fall into a few different categories: flat out Melo Death with Folk elements, Folky songs with some Metal, or the more epic sounding stuff. I realize there really isn’t much distinction among them, but the difference is that the emphasis of the song lies in the first part of the description. The songs sometimes end up in more than one anyway and this might just be a stupid way to try to classify the music. Songs like God is Dead, Way of the Warrior (my preferred choice for the opening song), Feast With Valkyries, and Don’t You Say could work quite nicely as pure folk songs, but Ensiferum put their metallic stamp on them.

Some songs, of course, are more Metal in nature. The band, fortunately, pulls off both styles with seemingly flawless effort. For Those About to Fight for Metal (aside from the awkward phrasing in the chorus) is prototypical Ensiferum – killer Metal with some Folk lines running throughout, even a Celtic sounding lead. King of Storms is a thundering blast of speed and aggression – really a kickass song from beginning to end.

Hail to the Victor (unfortunately titled too close to That Team Up North’s fight song – Ohio State fans get it), I Will Never Kneel, and the title track are some stellar examples of the epic nature of Ensiferum’s music. The band has managed to throw in a few twists and turns as well, such as the rhythmic patterns in Way of the Warrior and King of Storms.

Here’s Way of the Warrior:

One Man Army was by no means a terrible album, but I think that Two Paths is a noticeable improvement. Ensiferum’s place in my Metal pantheon is secure – they are right at the top. Their blending of traditional sounding folk melodies and fantastic Heavy Metal is rivaled by no one. Check out what is destined to be one of the best of 2017 and another feather in Ensiferum’s collective cap.  Expectations met – maybe even exceeded.

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One Response to WLM Reviews: Ensiferum – Two Paths

  1. Fernando on September 9, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Dang, stoked to check out this album with that rating!

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