Wuthering Heights - Far From The Madding Crowd

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Sensory
Catalog Number: SR3022
Format: CD
Total Time: 65:40:00

According to the Sensory website, this disc is the final episode of the "Evermore" saga. And even though I have never heard anything by Wuthering Heights before, this is definitely good news: it means there is more where this one came from!

This CD is without a doubt something special. Not often do I want to sing along with the first track (not counting the intro) during the first listen, but Wuthering Heights grab me by the arm and drag me along without resistance all the way to the end of the album. "The Road Goes Ever On" is a catchy, up-tempo powermetal song in the style of Blind Guardian's Somewhere Far Beyond disc, which by the way to me is the best overall comparison to Far From The Madding Crowd. But that doesn't mean Wuthering Heights fall back into clich&ecaute;s and familiar sounds: this material is very fresh, also because the use of bagpipe, violin, flute, banjo and a permanent keyboard player give this album a more folky sound than we are used to in the genre.

"Tree" is obviously a song about the Ents in the Lord Of The Rings saga and is one of those songs where the vocal harmonies especially sound like the better Blind Guardian material. Vocalist Nils Patrik Johansson sounds like a powerful mix between Ronnie James Dio and Hansi Kursch and is one of the best singers I have ever heard. The trilogy "Longing For The Woods" (tracks 4, 6 and 9 on the album), "Bad Hobbits Never Die" (nice wordplay) and "Lament For Lorien" are other examples of the Tolkien influence in the musical themes of Wuthering Heights. Thank goodness the lyrics are well written and kept pleasantly implicit so they never regress down to simple "then Gandalf said to Frodo" levels.

The songs aren't all made up of speedy powermetal though. There are plenty of time changes, folky intermezzos and beautiful melodies, which give the music a more proggy feeling than a similar album by - for example - Blind Guardian and will therefore appeal to both the power - and the progressive metal crowd. One of the great things of this album is that the melodies stick without being predictable. This makes the second time in the player an even better sing-along experience.

Artwork for the album is nothing too special, but still very pretty and going with the music very well. The production quality is superb, topping off a great musical effort. Wuthering Heights definitely deserve a place in the top ranks of Hobbitmetal bands. If this is breakfast Wuthering Heights-style, then I am ready for second breakfast. And elevensies, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, supper? Do you think they know about those?

[This review originally appeared February 2004 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]
Gather Ye Wild (1:46) / The Road Goes Ever On (7:50) / Tree (5:04) / Longing For The Woods Part I: The Wild Children (5:36) / Highland Winds (6:56) / Longing For The Woods Part II: The Ring Of Fire (6:15) / The Bollard (3:29) / Bad Hobbits Die Hard (3:22) / Longing For The Woods Part III: Herne's Prophecy (8:39) / Land Of Olden Glory (6:21) / Lament For Lórien (5:51) / Bonus Track: The Tapdancer /Gather Ye Wild (reprise) (4:08)

Erik Ravn - guitar, bass, keyboards, backing vocals
Henrik Flyman - guitar
Morten G Sorensen - drums, percussion
Nil Patrik Johansson - lead vocals
Rune S Brink - keyboards


Jette Hansen - bagpipe
Lisbeth Sagen - violin
Ulrik Tofte Jespersen - flute
Henrik Svanekaer - banjo
Tommy Hansen - backing vocals

Within (1999)
To Travel For Evermore (2002)
Far From The Madding Crowd (2004)
The Shadow Cabinet (2007)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin DK

Added: November 26th 2004
Reviewer: Erik Van Geel
Artist website: www.wuthering-heights.dk
Hits: 1048
Language: english


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