ENSIFERUM- “Two Paths” Album Review

Album Review

Ensiferum, a melodic folk metal group from Helsinki, Finland, are preparing to unleash another onslaught of sonic bliss On September 15th, 2017. The new album, entitled Two Paths, is the follow up to 2015’s One Man Army. For this album they tried a stripped down, organic, method to recording. Bassist/Vocalist Sami Hinkka had this to say on the process, “When we made ‘One Man Army'(2015), we wanted it to sound more like a live album than a traditional studio album. With ‘Two Paths’, we took that to the next level with analog recording, cutting down tracks and even recording songs without a click, and because of that there is a totally different kind of groove compared to most modern metal albums.” It is refreshing that a band will throw out the standard digital technique to get a sound that they are looking for. Some modern music sounds stale, and to sterile, due to the digital process; so I’m glad that analog recording is still applied to music here and there. Two Paths has a theme that runs throughout it, and that theme is about the choices we make, and the consequences that can arise from those choices; good or bad. Sami also realizes that these songs are open to the listener’s interpretation, and says that “For me, it’s really important that all lyrics have deeper, more serious and sometimes very personal meaning, while also fitting Ensiferum’s heroic theme. It’s a nice challenge to write lyrics this way, but it’s also really rewarding to hear fans’ interpretations of our music. There is no right or wrong in this matter.” With all the thought, and care, that they have used, it is no surprise that this is an epic album.
In terms of the music, this album has some of the best guitar work I’ve heard from this genre. “King of Storms” and “For Those About to Fight for Metal” have some great riffing going on. The intro to “For Those About to Fight for Metal” has an infectious, high speed, hammer-on and pull-off guitar section; during the verses it sounds as if the accordion picks this part up, and executes it with sheer precision. “Feast with Valkyries” has a very nice galloping rhythm part that kicks in at about the 1:15 mark, and, although it is quickly over, it is my favorite piece of this song. This song features a female vocal line, and, considering this song is about Valkyries, it is a fitting choice. Every member of this group is an extremely talented musician, and their parts are performed expertly. I really enjoy the folk elements, and how they mesh with the heavy side of these songs; two things that, until I discovered this genre, I had thought would never go together. The songwriting, from beginning to end, is well done; just great songs, one after the other, and never getting boring.
As I’ve said before, I really get into folk-metal, and this album reminds me of some of the other bands that fall within that amazing genre. Finnish bands share a lot of the same influences, so it is not surprising to hear elements of each band within the other. Finntroll (also from Helsinki), Korpiklaani, and Ensiferum are all from Finland, and all share a common thread. That thread is that they each play a form of music that speaks to their personal tastes, they have a similar sound while remaining unique, and are all excellent bands. On September 15th, in conjunction with Metal Blade Records, Ensiferum will release Two Paths. I feel that any fan of the band, of this genre, or of heavy music will enjoy it immensely. So when it comes out you can stream it, grab a physical copy, download it legally (piracy is forbidden), and, if you get the opportunity, go watch them live. It will be an experience you will never forget no matter how you choose to hear this release.

– Tom Hanno

 


Ensiferum Line-Up:
Petri Lindroos – Vocals/Guitar
Markus Toivonen – Guitar/Vocals
Sami Hinkka – Bass/Vocals
Janne Parviainen – Drums
Netta Skog – Digital Accordion/Backing vocals