Elvenking - Heathenreel

Year of Release: 2001
Label: AFM Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 55:00:00

Elvenking, formed in 1997, are a mixture of folk and symphonic metal - a kind of Secret Sphere meets Skyclad. Does it work? Read on my friends.

With all the genre-melding that is going on at the moment it is a wonder it has taken this long to mix such styles. There have been bands that have tried folk-y songs but not with so much vigour as displayed on Heathenreel. And for this, they must be applauded. But it's not just the folk elements because they also play speed, symphonic metal with a touch of progressiveness. It's kind of weird but it all makes sense once you hear it.

Whilst heavy use of keyboards are the order of the day they also use some "real" instruments in flutes, fiddles, and violas. Great stuff and an added welcome. I can play this whilst reading my Robert Jordan novels. :-) The problems are that vocalist Damnagoras, whilst very harmony oriented, is not the most solid performer on the disc. Listening to the opening track you might disagree, but once the album is complete you kind of feel let down. The band have written so many lyrics that Damnagoras is literally speeding through them at the speed of sound so listening to Elvenking makes you feel like you are working at enjoying it rather than just enjoying it. Production, courtesy of Fredrik Nordstrom (In Flames and Dark Tranquillity), is messy to say the least. Maybe there's too much going on that the band can't control in their music.

Innovations? There's still more. Elvenking also make use of death vocals (or death screams) every now and again. It is kind of shock to hear them because they kind of come out of nowhere. It adds more surprises but, like many innovations, they are a hit and miss affair. The music, in parts, is extremely aggressive and at these moments it is real headbanging material. So intense. Their lyrics follow the Pagan worship of nature and traditional folk-lore tales of fantasy realms populated by other-worldy magick and human endeavours. Phew! Whilst all the ideas are there, the bringing together of all of these [styles] needs a lot of fine-tuning - although this should come with time because what they are playing is not an easy mix of styles.

So, based on this, Elvenking is experimental, unique, and atmospheric. Unfortunately though, it never really comes together to form a cohesive unit although all of the skills are there and I'm very much looking forward to their next disc to see what they come out with.

[This review originally appeared November 2002 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]
To Oak Woods Bestowed / Pagan Purity / The Dweller Of Rhymes / The Regality Dance / White Willow / Skywards / Oakenshield / Hobs An' Feathers / Conjuring Of The 14th / A Dreadful Strain / Seasonspeech

Damnagoras - vocals
Aydan - guitars
Jarpen - guitars
Gorlan - bass
Zender - drums

Heathenreel (2001)
Wyrd (2004)
The Winter Wake (2006)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin IT

Added: December 18th 2004
Reviewer: Gary Carson
Artist website: www.elvenking.net
Hits: 1163
Language: english


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