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I have no words... Era is just perfect. It balances its folk influences and its power and melodic side so well. The fact that the violin is not just an instrument to build atmosphere or power (something like Sabaton and Powerwolf would do) amazes me in every way. Still, I am getting ahead of myself.
The album opens up with "The Loser", a hysterical song that feels as it is on cocaine or something. It is so wonderful to hear a 2012 album that does not start with a short overproduced intro (something that Sabaton and Powerwolf would do). The song also introduces to one of the greatest news ever. The new drummer, credited as Symohn (let's just forget the stupid nicknames the band members give themselves and call him Simone), is probably one of the best drummer I heard in a long time. I am dead serious. Coming from a drummer, I can say that his style and technique is impeccable. His drumming skills combined with the folk influences is just amazing. Listen to the pre-verse of The Loser, that shit is out of this world.
This album delivers everything it can give and a little more. I've stated before that there are folk influences (no shit, their style is a folk power hybrid), but there are so many other styles in this bag. Songs like I Am The Monster and Chronicles of a Frozen Era have a more symphonic feel to it, with a piano in the verse. The latter having a full choir. However, it never derails from its roots. A Song For The People is the obligatory folk interlude, Through Wolfs Eyes is a more folk rock, and even pop influences show up, in the song We, Animals.
Although many people say that it wants to be many styles in the same time that it gets too confused and convoluted, I am here to say that it is not. The solos, especially on songs like The Loser, Poor Little Baroness are true to the their roots and sounds good.
Oh, let's talk about the guitars. They are diverse. There are two guitarists, and unlike recent bands, they feel two separate entities. One plays the lead and the other rhythmic. That is apparent in We, Animals and Forget-Me-Not. Listen to the main riff of We, Animals, and they pretty much give all the instruments sharing the same room, and none feel left out.
Speaking of letting people out, Fabio, the fiddler, shines in this. While in red Silent Tides he played only solos (just to remind the listeners "Oh yeah, they have that guy"), here he plays whenever its needed. Like Amorphis used their keyboardist for playing the damn thing (instead of building atmosphere, something like Eluveitie did in Helvetios), Elvenking told Fabio to play the thing. A perfect example is the song Chronicles of a Frozen Era. The verse and pre-chorus both build atmosphere and power (using the violin), but they play smoothly and subtly, unlike bands that raises the sound so high I can not even hear the bass.
Speaking of the bass, let's get back to The Loser. After the solo, (and in the intro) it is possible to hear the bass. It is not any Powerslave bass, but it is also not Eluveitie Bass (where you just can not here it). Overall, I have no comments on the bass since it is just not as memorable as other instruments.
One factor that evolved since previous releases is the pacing. EK finally realized that, if a song is mid-paced or a fast-paced, there is no need to keep the whole song slow or fast. There could be a balance. One song that shows this is Midnight Skies, Winter Sighs. However, there is one song, Poor Little Baroness (seriously, I know they have this fairytale thing going on, but this name is stupid and childish, sounds like a story I would read for my daughter when she can not sleep). That song is mid-paced, and it plods and drones for a solid five minutes. I would have hated this song if not for the awesome intro and solo. Check that main riff, it is fucking brilliant. This song is between the two slowest songs (Forget-Me-Not and The Time of Your Life), making fifteen minutes of slow and mid-paced songs.
In the end, this is a masterpiece, all the way. If you can withstand the slow side of the album, I'd say buy it. It is packed with originality, and while it does seem childish, it never drifts away from itself. I sincerely recommend listening to the album seven times. One for listening to the vocals, another for one guitar, another for the other guitar, another for the bass, another for the fiddle, another for the drums, and one last for the instruments such as the piano and symphonic choirs and instruments.
This is but another great releases from the kings.
Originally written for my blog: http://darkwaveunderneath.blogspot.com.br/