ELVENKING – Two Tragedy Poets (…And a Caravan of Weird Figures)

ELVENKING - Two Tragedy Poets








Origin: Italy
Genre: Folk Acoustic Folk Metal
Label: AFM Records
Year: 2008

The power folk metal band from Italy is back with its fifth album. Being already 11 years in the scene they released the very promising debut “Heathenreel” in 2001, combining epic power metal with folk music. In their following albums the folk elements were slowly removed, resulting in the almost progressive power metal album “The Scythe” in 2007, where all folk elements are almost gone. Since this was their weakest album so far (according to many reviews and my opinion) my expectations weren’t very high, but fortunately I was wrong!

This album is their folkest work so far and even though it is supposed to be acoustic, the orchestrations are so rich, that you can’t understand it at first listen! Acoustic guitars, drums, violins, keys and Damnagoras’ characteristic vocals create a unique sound, very different from any other “acoustic” work you’ve ever heard. There are also some electric guitars, but in very minor parts, adding a metal sound to the album. Except for the cover on “Heaven is a Place on Earth” and the two acoustic versions of their previous songs “The Winter Wake” and “The Wanderer” all the other songs are new. This album is much closer to “Heathenreel” and I believe the absence of electric guitars made the band much more inventive on the compositions of the songs. The lead melodies are based mainly on the many different types of guitars and secondary on the violins (synths and whistles are in the background). Aydan’s work on the guitars is remarkable since he mixed standard acoustic, piezo acoustic and classical ones with brilliance, creating an unbelievably solid sound. Of course the production of the album is at the high standards they always offer us!

The album will be released on 14thof November in digipak and jewel case editions and will be preceded by an online single! Digipak version will include the acoustic version of “The Wanderer”, while there is also a song “Skywards 2008” available only in the Japan version. For me it was a very pleasant surprise, since I thought the band would follow other musical directions. If you liked their earlier more folk works, you must check “Two Tragedy Poets”. Also if you want to listen to an interesting acoustic experiment with a folk power metal approach, don’t hesitate! You can also check their official pages for samples.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
http://www.elvenking.net/index.htm
Elvenking @ Facebook
Elvenking @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

ÁSMEGIN – Arv

ÁSMEGIN – Arv








Origin: Norway
Genre: Folk Black Metal Folk Death Metal
Label: Napalm Records
Year: 2008

After 5 years of silence the Norwegian band is back. Even though the band was created in 1998 it was 2003 when they released their “Hin Vordende Sod & Sø” debut, which made quite an impression to the folk metal scene. Their new album “Arv” will be available by the end of November again by Napalm Records and let’s see what they have to present this time.

They are still at the folk black/death genre, but the album is different than the typical examples of this music. It is a slow album with a constant dialogue/conversation between black/death screams and male or female clean vocals. Guitar riffs are based on folk tunes accompanied often by violins and accordion. There is a lot of work in the composition with many different ideas and a great variety of styles in each song! All of the lyrics are in Norwegian fitting perfectly with the Nordic atmosphere of the work. It isn’t an easy to listen album and maybe you can’t get the melodies with the first hearing, but the more time you invest the more secrets are revealed. For me this is a sign of a good album! Usually when songs stick at first in your mind with catchy melodies, they become boring soon enough. But with “Arv” I just want to listen to it again and again…

There is a very original and strange folk mood in this work that will enchant lovers of this genre. There are some typical folk metal parts, but there is also a will for experiment that makes Ásmegin differ… It may sounds strange, but I find there is a “jazz improvisation” approach in many parts (that I have to admit it doesn’t work all the time). Female vocals are also much improved and I believe that the band could easily make a trip-hop, alternative, folk album with great success. The best song for me is the opening track “Fandens Mælkebøtte” with amazing female vocals full of folklore nostalgia.

I believe that 5 years was too long to wait, but Ásmegin got too many ideas in this period and tried to put them all together in this album. There are parts where it’s obvious that the band has too many things to offer, and I wish they would explore them in the near future, balancing a little better their influences and leaving behind their weaker parts. Let’s hope it won’t take them that much time to record something new.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
-

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

MIRRORTHRONE – Gangrene

MIRRORTHRONE – Gangrene








Origin: Switzerland
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal Melodic Black Metal
Label: Red Stream Inc.
Year: 2008

Mirrorthrone is one of Vladimir Cochet’s many projects. He comes from Switzerland and he is the founder and only member of three active bands: Mirrorthrone, Unholy Matrimony and Weeping Birth and he released a new album in 2008 with each of them. Even though the three projects have some similarities, Mirrorthrone has a more experimental atmospheric approach, Unholy Matrimony a more black, and Weeping Birth a more death metal approach.

“Gangrene” is Mirrorthrone’s third album, after “of Wind and Weeping” in 2003 and “Carriers of Dust” in 2006. Compared to the two previous releases I can say this album is more solid and powerful, with less atmospheric parts and a more aggressive mood. Even though Vladimir plays everything himself, the sound is amazingly full and he performs surprisingly well in all instruments. The drum programming (that was his first albums’ weakness) is much improved, and it sounds almost like real drums. If you know Vladimir’s previous works, “Gangrene” will satisfy you, without being his best work, but standing at the high level standards he has set. If you are new to Mirrorthrone, expect to find atmospheric symphonic melodic black metal, in a variable tempo and with great technical skills. He has a very personal sound, recognizable in all of his projects and Mirrorthone have a darker nostalgic (almost baroque) mood.

Vladimir is definitely a talented musician, or better a complete artist, since he does everything in his works; even the artwork of his cds, and he has nothing to fear compared with other “professional” artists. His orchestrations are very rich with guitars and keyboards cooperating perfectly, creating a really complete sound. Some piano interludes with ecclesiastic classical influences add a lot to the great atmosphere of the album and they work as relaxing melodic melancholic intermissions (he is so good I believe he could compose a whole classical music album with great success!). Lyrics are in English in some songs and in French in others. His vocals are deep black screams, while he also uses clean vocals in the more melodic parts and his is unbelievable good in both of them. All of the instruments are in the right level and his production is almost perfect, very much improved compared to his first efforts.

“Gangrene” is a great recommendation for all those who like symphonic atmospheric black metal, but with a more melancholic personal sound. The compositions and the songs are of very high quality, and if you don’t know it you could never even imagine that it’s one man’s band. You should give them a listen, since they are definitely worthy of your attention. “Gangrene” is released by Red Stream and is his most easy to find work…

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
http://www.mirrorthrone.com
Mirrorthrone @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

ANDRAS – Iron Way

ANDRAS – Iron Way








Origin: Germany
Genre: Epic Black Metal Pagan Metal
Label: Einheit Produktionen
Year: 2008

Epic pagan black metallers Andras are back 3 years after their previous effort “…of Old Wisdom”, the album that changed their sound. Their new work continues in the great style of this new Andras era…

The Germans offer us 45 minutes of very melodic well played majestic black metal, with  great variety in their sound. The voice of Ecthelion, even though he still reminds a lot of Vintersorg, is a trademark of the band’s new sound and he sings more with clean vocals than black metal. His voice, and mainly his clean vocals, has a very melancholic, epic expression and I believe it’s improved compared to the previous album “…of Old Wisdom”. The compositions are great, especially in the more bombastic melodic parts and the refrains, that (at least some of them) stay in your mind for quite a long…

Keyboards blend perfectly with the guitars and their importance varies from song to song. The mood changes often from epic to more melancholic or aggressive and the same happens with the tempo of the songs. In my opinion their more melodic symphonic songs are of higher quality, and the song “Pagan Path” is the best of the album. One difference I can find with their previous work, is that the tempo is somehow slower, and the more aggressive parts are reduced…

The production is very professional resulting in a very solid and full sound, where every instrument is at the right level. If you liked their last album you will love this CD. Also fans of melodic pagan black metal won’t be disappointed by this great release. You can visit their myspace profile to listen to some of their songs.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
Andras @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

OAKENSHIELD – Gylfaginning

OAKENSHIELD – Gylfaginning








Origin: United Kingdom
Genre: Folk Pagan Metal Viking Metal
Label: Einheit Produktionen
Year: 2008

Another promising debut from a new band, coming from UK. They were formed in 2004 under the name Nifelhel by their one and only member Ben Corkhill and released their first demo “Call of the Gods” in 2005 and the second “Upon the Blood of Ymir” in 2006. Later on, Ben changed the band’s name into Oakenshield and in 2007 the demo “Gylfaginning” was out with 4 songs from the upcoming same titled album, that Einheit Produktionen just released.

The first thing worthy to mention is the really beautiful landscape on the cover of the cd, preparing you for something good! And the first impression is usually correct! Oakenshield’s music is Viking black metal, in mid epic tempo, with many folk Celtic elements and instruments. The compositions are very solid and interesting, unexpectedly good for a first release! The production is at a very satisfying level and the sound is very full: you couldn’t tell that it’s actually a one man’s band! The CD lasts for over one hour with 11 epic compositions that bring into mind great bands of the genre! Ben uses black metal vocals, as well as clean epic ones. His voice is fitting perfectly his music and he is a decent singer (unlike many others in this genre) especially in the clean or choir vocals that he uses on many refrains.

The scales and the tunes of “Gylfaginning”are based on Nordic folk melodies and the lyrics deal with Nordic tales. Many violins and other Celtic instruments help Oakenshield to create this excellent epic Viking atmosphere reminding of bands like Falkenbach or Windir at some times. If this is just the beginning I think we can see many things from this band in the future. A great recommendation for the fans of the genre. Even though it’s just one man’s band there is a great variety in the songs, a really full sound and above all inspiration and quality in music. Check for yourselves in the links below.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
http://www.oakenshield.org
Oakenshield @ Facebook
Oakenshield @ Myspace

Originally published n HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

BUTTERFLY TEMPLE – Время Мары

BUTTERFLY TEMPLE – The Times of Mara








Origin: Russia
Genre: Pagan Metal
Label: Irond Ltd Sleaszy Rider Records
Year: 2005

Butterfly Temple is one of my favorite bands. They are from Russia and they are one of the first bands, if not the first, that introduced pagan folk black/doom metal in this huge country with the rich music tradition. They were formed in 1995 and many years later countless bands from Russia followed their steps, with Arkona being the most known of them.

So far all Butterfly Temple releases were by Russian labels (mainly Irond) and they didn’t get very good distribution outside the Baltic lands. “Время Мары – The Times of Mara” was initially released in 2005 by Irond Ltd and now in 2008 is re-released by the Greek label Sleaszy Rider, hoping to get them the distribution they deserve. It is the fifth album of the band and after it they have also released “Following the Sun” in 2006. It is also their first work without the charismatic Alexey “Lesyar” Agafonov (now in Nevid, Kramola, was also in Arkona) in the vocals. He helped though in the composition of 2 songs…

Butterfly Temple was always a very melodic band influenced by Moonspell’s “Wolfheart”, where keyboards have a very important role in the melodies, but their strong card was always the vocals. There is a great mix of black/death screams (so far by Lesyar), many female vocals and Russian choirs, as well as the amazing clean vocals of Abrey, that are somehow a trademark for the band. So now, without Lesyar in the black vocals (Miron took his place), Abrey has the first role and clean vocals are more dominant than ever. Maybe the band lost somehow in it’s strength and brutality, but gained a lot in melody… Another interesting change is the absence of folk elements, that were present in many of their previous works. Anyway the compositions and orchestrations are very good, with a melancholic epic pagan feeling all over them. They have a very personal sound (something really rare in this genre) with excellent vocals and a great variety in the songs. From melodic doom, to epic black metal and almost funeral ballads, all of highest quality. Lyrics are in Russian and the cd comes with bonus multimedia material (video, photos, etc.) There also a hidden track, a live cover of a couple of Moonspell’s songs from “Wolfheart”.

Even though their previous album “Tropoyu Krovi po Vole Roda” is my personal favorite of the band, I can’t give them less than 9. If you like pagan metal and you don’t know them, you lose, they definitely worth a try. You can visit their official page for more info.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
http://www.butterflytemple.ru

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

SVARROGH – Yer Su

SVARROGH – Yer Su








Origin: Bulgaria
Genre: Folk Acoustic
Label: Ahnstern - Steinklang
Year: 2008

Svarrogh is a very complex and unique band formed in 2001 by the talented Bulgarian musician Dimo Dimov, who is also the only member of the band. He now lives in Germany, but his love for Bulgarian nature and traditions is obvious in his creations.

Svarrogh begun as a raw black metal band with some folk influences and released their first full length “Baxas Xebesheth 1883” in 2003. Later in 2004 they released their second work “Lady Vitosha” that had a more mainstream sound and Dimo experimented in some folk instruments. The same year miniCD “Bolgaryan Art” appeared and the band introduced a new interesting neofolk acoustic sound. In 2006 Svarrogh released “Kukeri”, an excellent example of pagan folk black metal with many Bulgarian and Balkan traditional instruments, all played by Dimo. This was the best album of Svarrogh in their folk black metal phase. After this album the sound of the band changed a lot and since then all their albums are released from Ahnstern! “Balkan Renaissance” and “Temple of the Sun”, both released in 2007, reveal a totally ambient neofolk ethno industrial face of the band, while all metal elements are vanished. And now in 2008 Svarrogh return with a new full-length album “Yer Su” that I expected it to be a continuation of their last steps, or not?!…

“Yer Su” is ritualistic ancient Bulgarian pagan music, a return to the minimalistic atmosphere of Balkan ancestors. Many traditional instruments like kaval, gaida, gadulka, mandoline, bells, ukelele, ocarinas, snow steps, accordeon, tanpur, tamboura, bagpipes, flutes and clarinets were used in “Yer Su” by the really “gifted” Dimo Dimov, while some guest members were also invited (from Defiles des Ames, Allerseelen and Negura Bunget). The pleasant surprise is that some electric guitars (even if totally in the background) and some extreme vocals are back again. The result is very original and unique; unlike anything you’ve heard before and unlike anything Svarrogh have done so far. I believe it’s their best effort in this marriage of ritual Balkan music with elements of extreme metal, getting very close to the primordial essence of this music. Of course don’t expect to listen to black metal with this release. It’s like “Balkan Renaissance”, just with some extreme metal touches and better (in my opinion) compositions.

The vocals are mainly incantations, and except for the guitars and the folk instruments there are also many nature, ambient and industrial sounds, in a very variable result. Lyrics deal with surrealism and folkloric symbolism in Bulgarian mythology. It’s like a tapestry of ancient Bulgarian landscapes, villages, habits and a whole almost forgotten pagan culture unfolding before your eyes for almost 80 minutes! You can travel to older times and almost smell the forests, the mountains, the lakes, the farms and the old towns…The cd is released in a beautiful digipak with excellent artwork and an amazing cover photo by the Bulgarian artist Haate Kaate.

“Yer Su” isn’t for everyone, that’s for sure! Many people who expect to listen to something in the style of their earlier works maybe won’t appreciate it. But if you are interested for quality ritual folkloric music and you are open in such musical experiments, you should check them and let them take you in their journey through time in magical Balkan lands.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
http://svarrogh.net
Svarrogh @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

MORGART – Die Türme

MORGART – Die Türme








Origin: Switzerland
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Label: Black Tower Productions
Year: 2007

This is the second album of the Swiss band Morgart. Morgart is somehow the continuation of an old black metal band Forsth, that split-up on 1999. Later Gonahr (one of the members of Forsth) decide to create this band. After their impressive debut “Die Schlacht (In Acht Sinfonien)” in 2005, where they played symphonic atmospheric epic medieval black metal, they return with a very different album.

Their music isn’t easy to describe. Maybe the term symphonic operatic blackish metal is the closest, but that’s not very precise… There are many keyboards that have the leading role in the songs with really nice ideas that relax and travel the listener back in time. The guitars are actually accompanying the melodies and the rhythms of the synths and they give a black metal touch to “Die Türme”, even though the vocals never become extreme. There are only clean male vocals and many opera-style singing (only male again). It’s like a lighter version of their previous work, but with this new ambitious experiment in the vocal lines. All the lyrics are in German and they deal with medieval towers from their homeland. Except for their music, Morgart like to search for their nation’s medieval history something that is obvious in the beautiful photos of their booklet and in their lyrics.

Coming to the music itself now, the whole result is very melodic, nostalgic and melancholic. It’s like a dark medieval soundtrack with many great ideas in the melodies and vocals. I believe that the vocals can take some improvement, since it’s not easy to sing this way, but of course they are at a very satisfying level for a first effort! I sure would like to listen to some black metal screams again (I think they still fit their music), but on the other hand, I welcome their new path, that can become better in the future. In their myspace page you can find some samples of their new album (unluckily nothing yet from their excellent debut). Recommended to all who like symphonic experimental music, or to black metal fans who’d like to rest their eardrums for a while…

dimiarch


Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
Morgart @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews