ALBUM REVIEW: Two Paths – Ensiferum

Finnish folk metal heavyweights ENSIFERUM are set to release their seventh studio album Two Paths, coming just two years after their previous record One Man Army.

Like their previous work, and something which has become a common feature on folk/power metal albums, the opening track, Ajattomasta Unesta, is an instrumental. It helps to set the tone of the record, and is a gentle way to introduce the audience to the record, building up gradually in a typical folk metal style as if it is the introduction to a film. The opener flows into the next track, and the band’s only single from the new record, For Those About to Fight for Metal. The intro beings with an exceptionally fast paced guitar solo from Markus Toivonen, quickly accompanied by the electric accordion and drums to give that authentic folk metal sound. Petri Lindroos delivers on the harsh vocals, and the whole package is quality.

The following track on the record, Way of the Warrior, doesn’t seem to have that same folk metal sound and seems to go more down the death/thrash metal route. There’s a lot more emphasis on the bass and the riffs are much more frequent. Couple that once more with Lindroos’ vocals and you’ve got a recipe for an excellent heavy metal track. The folk metal elements do appear towards the end, which help to strengthen the quality of the track.

There are a lot of hidden gems on this record – in fact it’s a safe bet to say that every track is very well written, and the sound on each one is sublime. Some of the tracks lean more towards the folk metal side of their music and the sound is more noticeable, for example Feast with Valkyries, which also feature the softer yet equally as powerful vocals of Netta Skog, while others like Hail to the Victor are on the other end of the spectrum. Two of the tracks also have alternative versions, God is Dead and Don’t You Say, though having listened to both versions it is difficult to work out what the main differences are between the two.

Overall ENSIFERUM have delivered another exceptional record; the sound is on point throughout, and they have struck the right balance between folk metal and the more heavier elements that feature on the record. For a band that have been going for over 20 years, they have managed to maintain that strong level of consistency, as well as maintaining their own unique sound which has followed them throughout their careers. Two Paths is definitely one of the best records to have been released this year, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if it features in the top 20 albums of 2017.

Rating: 9/10

Two Paths - Ensiferum

Two Paths is set for release on September 15th via Metal Blade Records.

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