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Ensiferum - Two Paths

Ensiferum
Two Paths
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 05 October 2017, 11:51 AM

ENSIFERUM, to me, have always been a talented band who have consistently put out average albums, after JARI (WINTERSUN mastermind) left.  I’m a huge Folk Metal fan and, thus, follow it and the myriad of bands within it closely.  I’ve always wanted to like this band but nothing they have done has ever excited me beyond their first two albums (the two with Jari).  I really, really, wanted this new album (their seventh one), “Two Paths,” to excite me.  Sadly, its another middle of the road album that leaves me wanting more from the band.  In a world where MOONSORROW, AMORPHIS, WINTERSUN, TYR, and FINNTROLL exist, you have to be on your game in the Folk Metal world because competition sure is fierce.

I really liked the opening “Ajattomasta Unesta,” because I thought I was settling in for an epic ride.  Those thoughts continued during the beginning of the next track,“Those About To Fight For Metal.”  The symphonic opening of the song is amazing—indeed, the symphonic elements of the band are well done throughout.  Then the guitar kicks in and I just get bored.  The riffs are just so boring, so standard…I lost interest less than two minutes into the song.  The production is very odd too—the symphonic melodies are pushed way into the background and it’s a strain to hear them.  With the best part buried, the “me too” aspect of just about everything else is just too much.

The most glaring problem with the album is the clean vocals of Markus—they are thin, weak, out of tune, and often times sound like a corny pirate.  ALESTORM has that element of the genre down pat and they do a much better job of it.  The harsh vocals of Petri are still intact and he might sound better than ever so I cannot for the life of me understand why there is such a focus at times on the clean vocals.  As I listened to the tracks, I lost focus of where I was which is never a good sign for an album, especially a Folk Metal album where bands can use a wide variety of sounds.  “God Is Dead,” sounds near identical in parts to every other Folk Metal song I’ve ever heard.   Add in heavy but uninteresting bass and solid but basic drumming then we have here an album that gives us the bare minimum, paint by numbers sound of Folk Metal.  It is becoming increasingly clear that Jari was the best part of this band.  Speaking of which, just go listen to WINTERSUN.

Songwriting: 5
Originality: 5
Memorability: 5
Production: 5

2 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Ajattomasta Unesta
2. For Those About To Fight For Metal
3. Way of the Warrior
4. Two Paths
5. King of Storms
6. Feast with Valkyries
7. Don’t You Say
8. I Will Never Kneel
9. God Is Dead
10. Hail to the Victor
11. Unettomaan Aikaan
12. God is Dead (alternative version)
13. Don’t You Say (alternative Version)
Lineup:
Markus Toivonen – Guitars, Clean Vocals
Sami Hinkka – Bass, Backing Vocals
Petri Lindroos – Harsh Vocals, Guitars, Percussion
Janne Parviainen – Drums
Netta Skog – Accordion, Backing Vocals
Record Label: Metal Blade Records
     


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