Vera : This Finnish folk/pagan/death metal horde needs no introduction anymore. Since more than twenty years, they are one of the most active and enthusiastic representatives of that genre. Ensiferum is a pre-eminently live band. They already kept that in mind during the recordings of ‘One Man Army’ and that is even more noticeable when listening to album number seven ‘Two Paths’, which was recorded at the Astia Studios with producer Anssi Kippo, just like its predecessor.
In between two atmospheric intermezzos with Finnish titles at the beginning and the end of the record, one can find nine new tracks which are – without exception – exciting, battle-like and inviting to sing along. You might say: more of the same, but this would be lack of justice due to the strong impact of the compositions. Within their well-known niche, it is crafted in such an ingenious manner that you are soon, after few spins, led away into the glorious world of these sturdy guys and girl. Netta Skog happens to be recruited as permanent member after the definitive departure of keyboard player Emmi and it speaks for itself that we can hear more accordion in the songs. Also vocal-wise Netta contributed, more precisely in the party-like ‘Feast With Valkyries’ and the sensitive part in ‘I Will Never Kneel’.
The record opens right away with a stunner. ‘For Those About To Fight For Metal’ appears to be a hymn for the fans and can be described as AC/DC meets Ensiferum in lyrics and guitar skills. Amazing! Harmony chants, choirs and some orchestration are often heard in the catchy songs. Petri Lindroos’ raspy death growl is recognizable out of thousands, but a lot of (semi) clean vocals of bassist Sami Hinkka (and Markus) can be spotted as well. A sure-fire interaction between both vocal styles we can hear in the title track, a top notch song with fervent guitar- and accordion solos plus a violin outro. The idiosyncratic choppy rhythms in ‘King Of Storms’ are a bit in the vein of Finntroll (mark the barbarian hoarse vocals), while ‘Don’t You Say’ is a bit too light for the undersigned, but live it will be a blast. We rather hear the sturdy ‘I Will Never Kneel’ or the elated ‘God Is Dead’. Yet the real highlight of ‘Two Paths’ happens to be ‘Hail To The Victor’. Here Ensiferum gets really epic and captivating! Thus we have less adventurous, lengthy tracks on this album, but on the other hand Ensiferum has created their catchiest and most accessible album to date. A guarantee for success!