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Okay, I will admit it. I kind of liked Third Age of the Sun. It didn't absolutely blow me away, but I never felt the smoldering disappointment that settled in the stomach of others upon hearing the album. I had hope that the next release would be great, that everything would be better once Battlelore got over this little hump. I suppose, then, that my sighs of regret were only delayed for a short time, because after listening to Battlelore's new "Evernight", I'm right there with everyone who has been shaking their heads at this band ever since "Sword's Song" was released.
It really does pain me to describe their recent output as "tired" and "monotonous", but at this point, I can't help but feel like Battlelore need to take a break and recharge. Something has fizzled out here. The spark of creativity that lit "Sword's Song" on fire is gone. I've watched those flames fade for a while now, yet Battlelore still continues to kick out albums well after their sore, exhausted arms have begged them to put down their instruments.
It's a shame, too. I can sit back and let songs like 'House of Heroes' wash over me, picking out riffs and interludes that remind me of the Battlelore of old. These moments twinkle with promise, then quickly become swallowed by the pervading, bromidic aura of sameness that surrounds most of the tracks on "Evernight". After a while, everything mixes into a droning wall of music that digs its tedious claws into my nerves and I have to stop listening to anything altogether. At that point, silence is all I can stand, and this is not a feeling I ever expected Battlelore to invoke in me.
Perhaps it's the guitars or the drumming. They certainly don't stand out all that much, though they're hardly offensive to the ears. Hell, like I mentioned before, they tend to create moments where the song threatens to pick up and become interesting. Unfortunately, those moments are backed up and repeated ad nauseam until they're driven face-first into the ground.
The vocals, of course, must be the problem, right? Well, Kaisa has always had a beautiful voice, even if she tends to sing in a rather light, smoky fashion that never really changes. Tomi's harsh growls and grunts have always seemed rather silly to me and I'm typically afraid that he's going to hurt himself. Despite that, he provides a contrast with Kaisa's laid-back, seductive style of singing, so there's a reason behind both vocalists being present.
His vocals aren't terribly dynamic either, though. Aside from a few exceptions, what you're hearing one second is what you're probably going to be hearing later, no matter how long you listen. In the end, it's this very sort of languishing, predictable framework that makes "Evernight", and to a lesser extent, "Third Age of the Sun", such a chore to listen to. When albums like "Where the Shadow's Lie" and "Sword's Song" came along, I was amazed at how fresh the old fantasy style of metal could still seem. Battlelore had taken a formula and polished it to an attractive sheen, producing catchy, memorable songs and lyrics that were more than worthy of being attached to Tolkien's legendary life's work.
Now, though, I can only listen to a band that seems tired from the road, yet still eager to get their hands dirty doing what they love. Tragically, they're making the same mistake that Metallica, Children of Bodom, Suidakra, and countless others have: continuing to produce music long after you've run out of creative ideas. The ugly result is the very type of mediocre content found on "Evernight". Battlelore, for what it's worth, are still one of my favorite bands, but I truly do hope they take a break after this album and come back fresh and energetic again.
The potential is here and they haven't forgotten how to make good music, but that just makes releases like this one all the more frustrating to hear.
I am a fan of Battlelore. A lot of female fronted power metal bands come off as flat and cheesy, trying to make up for bad songs with the novelty of a female, but Battlelore makes the difference by writing great songs. They are masters of the soft to hard dynamic. The female vocals are haunting and powerful and really draw you into the songs instead of running you off. I’m not a huge fan of the Male vocals in every song as they come off a bit forced and almost silly but the contrast is needed. Also, being a big Tolkien fan, (and who isn’t?) it’s nice to get another take on his world. They like to hit themes from the Silmarillion and the Forgotten Tales, instead of singing about Gandalf for the 100th time. They also do a great job of Re-telling Tolkien’s tales from a perspective that isn’t blatantly obvious or always from a main Antagonist. It gives the songs a bit more depth and the books some nice texture as well.
“House of heroes” starts off a bit muted for an opener, and has a nice piano melody. The ending almost perfectly melds into the second track “Ocean’s Elysium”, which quickly tones down s to bass and symbols carried by Kaisa’s great vocals. The guitar work is great and takes the song to a more epic level feeding off the main melody. It’s not as an impressive as an opener as some of their albums.
"Summon the wolves" is a bit harsher with some double bass work thrown in for good measure. Very tight drumming as well which seems to take center stage a little past the middle mark. Tomi’s vocals fit well here. The break down toward the end of the track is great, A Perfect transition to bring back Kaisa. I’d say the last two minutes of the song are the best, closing out with a nice muted groove. I’m pretty sure this song comes from the Silmarillion story “Beren and Luthien”. A nice Elf/Man love story which features Sauron himself as a werewolf.
“We Are The Legions” starts off with an almost Ulcer like riff exploding with drums and keyboard. When the song calms down the guitars stay central with some thicker riffs to nice effect. I’m fond of this track, though it takes a few listens to sink in. “Into the new world” also has some riffs that wouldn’t be out of place on a black metal album. Lots of piano/keyboard and a nice riff structure. It’s darker than most battlelore songs, but not by that much.
“Longing Horizon” is mostly acoustic and bass for the first minute, with lots of tom work. It goes from soft to loud from chorus to verse with some nice brooding guitar mixed in at the end to change up the verse. Then it builds as kaisa does her thing.
“The Cloak and The Dagger” is a bit more driving and harsh than the last track with some excellent breaks. It plays to all of Battlelore’s strengths with excellent effect.
“Beneath the Waves” Stands out with a mix of male/female vocals. The male vocals serves as a layered back drop to kaisa. The instruments are a High tempo almost thrash like pace that’s a change for Battlelore. A Great song to end the album with.
To sum up, This isn’t as catchy or straightforward as Sword Song, and I kind of wish they would inject a bit more of what made Swordsong so striking. I doubt this will win any new fans, though it might with the denser style. Evernight is also more cohesive as an album than Third Age and Gets better with every listen. It’s a darker and more mature work with thicker compositions, and their ability to jump from soft to hard has reached a level of craftsmanship that Feanor would be proud of.