Ensiferum: ‘Two Paths’ – Album Review

From the echoed sounds of battle: a smith at his weapon; a prayer for the sword to be drawn again. It is time for Ensiferum. This ultra-melodic folk metal powerhouse seems to be one of those bands that have a well-rounded mature sound that won’t leave you. In the face of the extremely powerful Folk Metal scene we have so many bands to have true variants of this genre. Despite Turisas, who had made Battle Metal distinctly theirs by naming an album Battle Metal, Ensiferum are one of the few to be holding this banner high. Their sound more firmly rooted in melodic hooks and a stunning gallop over an epic sounding atmosphere.

One Man Army, Ensiferum's previous album, showed the beginnings of Netta Skog, interestingly of Turisas fame, being integrated into the band. So perhaps it should be no surprise that this happy union continue with Two Paths, where Netta Skog’s work feels a lot more infused within the songs. In One Man Army we did already see the bands sounds take an epic stance to melodic atmospheres and certainly this is not lost on Two Paths. The backing vocals and orchestral moments, by Mikko P. Mustonen make this a tour de force for the band pushing forward the energetic guitars that never fail to work in a catchy riff or two. This culminates in songs like ‘Feast with Valkyries’ and ‘I Will Never Kneel’ where the rhythm and accordions meet for a seeming party on top of a ice mountain.

‘King of Storms’ is another example of the albums willingness to explore directions but in a completely different way. The fast energy of Ensiferum keeps this symphonic atmosphere but the riffs seem to build upon each other, keeping a variation on itself to build higher and higher to a relentless hook. Not far from a similarity with Equilibrium if it weren’t for the very unique guitar-work by Markus Toivonen. It is one of the albums true accomplishments.

For Ensiferum’s very recognisable sound, Two Paths feels at much home with the rest of their discography. Instantly pairing songs with previous efforts but with Netta Skogs involvement we see the natural progression. We feel the fun come across as we do with almost any songs by Ensiferum but we also start to see the band reach out to other avenues. These moments leave the rest of the album behind. We are at times just at home, we are at others fighting warrior upon warrior on the fields of Finland.

Score: 7/10

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