Review Summary: The path taken is one of disappointing consequence.
It is no secret that Ensiferum have descended in quality, judging from their last two clemently tolerable releases. They feature no honest sounding grandiosity, as the band have seemed to pivot on their trademark sound, without any experimentation. Scattered askew across the graveyard of the once stellar releases from the band are the remnants of the truly epic sound extricated, in a rather depressing fashion. So, it seemed the band had two paths, one of experimentation, and the other being one of stagnation. It is not onerous to cognise which path was taken, very promptly.
The band display their ability to fabricate riffs which could be found on a classic Ensiferum album such as 'Victory Songs' on some of the superlative songs, such as 'King of Storms'. Yet, there are only a few of these songs on the album, and come far from being remarkable when compared to the older songs. Due to this, the album is plagued by mediocre tracks, all of which fail to embed any sense of memorable qualities.
However, one thing that cannot be objurgated about this album is the instrumentals. The quality found is here is relatively average when compared to the previous releases, which would not be a problem if it was supported by better production. The guitars create some quality riffs found throughout the album, backed up by some exceptionally lavish playing of the bass. The drums eruct marching beats, which are paired with the often overblown orchestration, immersing the listener and making one feel like they are marching into battle.
Another relatively positive point about this album is the vocal variety. The growls have been toned down and often replaced by cleans, which shows signs of the band trying something new. Sadly, the clean vocals fail to impress, often feeling out of place. This ultimately results in a fatal blow to the albums quality. When the cleans are swapped for growls, they almost seem to be eclipsed by their quality, making them sound feeble. A swing and a miss proves to be one of the major downfalls for this album, but if they are meliorated, they could prove to be a powerful tool in future releases.
As disappointing as it is to say, many things could have easily been done to this album in order to make it better. Ensiferum have shown hints of improvement, but have ultimately stumbled onto a path of mediocrity once more. Riddled with poor production, forgettable tracks and a failed use of clean vocals, 'Two Paths' asserts itself as one of the weakest outings in the band's discography.