"Two Paths"

By Theron Moore

European folk metal warriors unite!  Ensiferum return with “Two Paths,” which believe it or not, is actually pretty good.  Musically that is.  Here’s the rub. I’m an American from Northern Illinois.  So, the whole Viking / Folk metal thing, honestly?  I don’t always get it.  Much too often it sounds like a soundtrack to a bad B grade fantasy movie.  There I said it.  “Two Paths” however, is one step above this.  From a metal standpoint, the music is good.  Vocals aren’t too bad either.  But as soon as the folk aspect kicks in, that’s where the Hobbits and weird angry sprites wielding their +2 swords lose me.  I do have to admit that musically, the Finnish quintet’s sound is epic and far reaching, that I’ll give in to.  

“Two Paths” does have a big, cinematic sound to it which elevates the metallic aspect of this disc up a couple of notches.  So, I imagine you might ask yourself, why would I review a record that I may not fully appreciate or understand?   Answer:  Because “Two Paths” is interesting and that’s enough in and of itself to draw me in and keep my attention.  Plus, and this a big one with me, the band seems to be having a good time and into the record.  It shows.  Says bassist / vocalist Sami Hinkka, “It all comes down to writing music that sounds good to us and is fun to play live, and I would say with “Two Paths” we've done everything better than we ever have before.” 

I agree with Hinkka.  The songs are pretty good in reference to this genre. And they’re definitely fun to listen.  Generally speaking, this record makes me want to throw back a few buckets of Grog and maybe cast a Fireball spell at some unsuspecting Troll or marauding Wyvern. Obviously I’m kidding around but if you’re really into folk metal, I kid you not, Ensiferum’s “Two Paths” will bring out your inner level 3 fighter.  It is D&D worthy and then some.  Stand out tunes include “For those about to fight for Metal,” “King of Storms,” and the very Manowar sounding, “I Will Never kneel.”  I like this record.  It’s actually grown on me, I recommend it.  It has a spirit and swagger that connects with you. Unless you’re a Hobgoblin.  Dick.