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Farewell emerald forests, hello crimson seas. - 80%

hells_unicorn, July 19th, 2011

Forgiveness isn’t always the easiest thing to procure in life, and a metal band that took a complete stylistic nosedive is perhaps one of the more extreme examples of the difficulty in attaining it. But this load can become much lighter when a suitable atonement is made for a travesty guising a metal album, which is basically what Elvenking’s newest incarnation “Silent Red Tides” is in relation to the horrid mess of pop/punk and happy hardcore influenced drivel that was “The Scythe”. Nevertheless, a clear distinction should be made between something being a sizable step up from a complete bomb and being a complete return to form, because this album is a solid venture in a very different respect than that of the first two folk/power classics, or even the marginally good “The Winter Wake”.

This is an album that is more typified by a strong traditional heavy/power metal influence, having only a subtle presence of the band’s old woodland tales and elvish lore in an occasional violin line or a passing melodic reference. There is definitely still a bouncy, almost happy tendency to these songs musically, but the lyrical content is a tiny bit less so. But thankfully Damna has refrained from attempting to do harsh semi-death metal vocals, a gimmick that worked for the band in the past when a competent other member was doing them, but a liability that dragged down “The Winter Wake” a bit and turned “The Scythe” into the train wreck that it was. It’s all straight up clean singing with a slight bit of attitude, almost like a slightly lighter answer to Dream Evil and Hammerfall, though there is a greater depth to the music of course.

Like with any band incorporating folk elements into a metallic medium, Elvenking lives and dies by how catchy their songs are without being overtly derivative and cliché, and “Silent Red Tides” proves to be formidable in this regard. When listening to cruising, guitar happy numbers such as “Silence De Mort” or the instant sing along festival of infectiously memorable hooks that is “What’s Left Of Me”, one is compelled to smile and try to imitate Damna’s sailing melodies. And occasionally a hint of the early glory days pops up such as in the serene acoustic intro of “Runereader”, all but recapping what made “Heathenreel” a certified classic, but through the lens of a basic heavy metal production more befitting of Judas Priest.

While this obviously isn’t quite a worthy successor to the widely hailed early days of the band (nor does it really try to be), this did make me all but completely forget Damna’s interlude into wimpy My Chemical Romance territory from a few years back. This is an album that can stand toe to toe with every recent offering put out by the likes of Gamma Ray and Iron Savior, yet has its own individual character that keeps it from sounding as overtly German and old school, though this is definitely a closer flirtation with that style than anything else Elvenking has ever put out. If one is inclined towards a humble collection of power metal that impresses with good old fashioned songwriting rather than vocal or instrumental gymnastics, one would also be inclined towards a copy of this in his shopping bag.

Swinging swords in the 21st century - 65%

doomknocker, February 8th, 2011

I first heard of this group when someone I know and Facebook with took a test to see what kind of “metal band” he was. He came up as “ELVENKING”, and both of us were a little stymied as to who “ELVENKING” was. The name was intriguing enough, provoking images of power/folk/epic metal mastery with just a minimum daily requirement of cheese, and upon procurement of their latest, “Red Silent Tides”, there could only be good things coming my way once I way.

So I popped it in, sat back, and waited to see what the musical King of the Elves had for me…

Once the disc started, things seemed to go in the right direction; the same folk/power metal and rhythms one would expect of a band of that same moniker and, seemingly, lyrical caliber, but then it all kinda descends into areas not really befitting the folk way of things. Sometimes, there’s a strange, sorta modern approach, a rather melodic death/metalcore feel, the way the vocal harmonies and sugar-coated guitar riffs/leads work themselves before rushing back into the bounciness of it all. This can lead to a confounding feel rather than a complete enjoyment, as the intention, ability, and obvious craft is present the way the band plies through their wares, but this riff-by-riff change-up thing going on doesn’t really make the songs flow as well as they should. That’s not to say that this is a bad disc; I still found myself going from track to track to see what else they had to offer me and enjoyed at least a good portion of each. And while each track progressed, making the overall feel more and more approachable, it’s just that a little more cohesion with it all would have been of beneficence for “Red Silent Tides”, possibly making it a better overall product. Still, as is, the infectious melodies and that touch of metallic power makes for a good listen, a sort of folk album to enjoy when you don’t want to be bashed over the head with violins and accordions (a rare occurrence, but it still happens), where the atmospheric orchestrations, acoustic interludes, chunky riffs and wild, almost hyperactive clean vocals/choirs combine tightly despite the earlier mentioned stylistic confusion. It’s still a complete product chock full of enjoyment depending on what you’re looking for, where songs like “The Last Hour”, “Runereader” and “Your Heroes are Dead” are concerned.

In the end “Red Silent Tides” was a decent listen, one that I don’t think would really put the whole folk/power metal thing on its head, but still a good album nonetheless. I can say, on my end, that it took some time for it to warm on me, but now I can enjoy it for what it is.

Back to the roots but still surprising - 80%

kluseba, January 3rd, 2011

After a very dark and gore "The scythe" and the acoustic album "Two tragedy poets" that divided the fanbase in two different camps, Elvenking tries to reunite both of them with "Red silent tides" where the band goes back to its roots. This album will please to anyone that liked the older material of the band like "Heathenreel" or "The winter wake" and unites soft power metal with folk elements and some little progressive surprises. There are no entirely acoustic parts or death metal influenced tracks on this record. The courage and the suroprising factor has gone and I am a little bit sad about thisbecause I personally liked the fact that band lways tried out something new, but on the other hand it's surely a positive fact that they have found their style and worked out a very well done album that should please anybody that already liked the band before.

But while the band concentrates mostly on folkish up tempo songs like "Your heroes are dead" or catchy modern power pop metal like on "The last hour" or a combination of both like on the beautiful "The cabal", there are still some fresh surprises on the record that are not that courageous or extreme as they have already done before but that fit perfectly with the whole style and flow of this new album.

"Runereader" has somesymphonical elements and a few growls and is a very progressive piece of music with many changes in style and probably one of my very favourite tracks on the record.

"Possession" is the following song and something completely different but even more profound and touching with its very soft and inspiring instrumentalization. By listening to this song, you feel like waking up in perfect harmony early in the morning in the middle of the nature. This song is soft and simply magic and something like my secret hit on this record.

"Those days" tries out some sleaze rock elements and is a really tight and cool rocker that you wouldn't expect from this abnd but rather from a band in the key of "The 69 Eyes".

That's why this is a very convincing album that has a typical Elvenking style but still tries out something new for progressive fans like me that mostly appreciate when bands are doing some experiments. This band is simply convincing me like always and it is nice and relaxing to listen to the new reciord. The bonus edition comes along with abonus disc that includes the first demo by the band that is also worth listening to. I can only highly recommend this record even though I very slightly prefered the surprising and stunning "The scythe".

New Dawn - 80%

GuntherTheUndying, January 3rd, 2011

Ah yes, Elvenking. Perhaps you consider them unfairly bashed, or maybe the least noteworthy power metal band ever, who only found fame through vapidly wailing their generic cry around with a violin, of all instruments; both are common opinions, and seemingly justified. Elvenking have experienced the uncovered events of a long-running band, circumventing through promise and complexion, to infamy and humiliation, and finally accomplishing a sense of rejuvenation with "Two Tragedy Poets," which really did provide new energy in an otherwise dire situation. "Red Silent Tides," although certainly not in the same league as Elvenking's acoustic album, reignites the group's zesty power metal approach, albeit with a side of expected girth, yet nothing worth a tantrum. As I guy that really despised Elvenking's nosedive into tediousness, I must say they've really risen back to a level that respects their roots and survival instincts. To be magnanimous is to be blessed, I suppose.

Elvenking's direction this time around essentially targets memory-heavy power metal, basically exploiting the characteristics often associated with said-identity. Fast, chunky riffs, rapid percussion, atmospheric keys, a huge focus on choruses and catchiness, plus a sturdy production job; all of it wrapped up and ready to ship. "Red Silent Dawn," though, is consistent and fun, finally portraying the bloodline this band was supposed to have: there is no love for metalcore, nor the high-school angst that plagued "The Scythe," so mail Odin your alms and let the party begin! The musicality isn't significant by a sniper rifle's blast, but it is very catchy and listenable. Vocalist Damnagoras shows no signs of morphing outside his very fine voice, which again, makes for a dependable affair once all is scribed in the runes.

More importantly, "Red Silent Tides" has some transcendental material within the album's niche, mainly because the metallic element finally earns a much-needed presence that most of Elvenking's declining works lacked. "Runereader," for instance, seemingly comes out of nowhere with speedy riffs, addictive turns, and a monstrous double-bass bridge submerged in keys that simply becomes wondrously epic as all hell; it's easily one of the record's prime cuts. "Your Heroes Are Dead" likewise serves a course in electric riffs typically found in fast power metal, yet configured brilliantly in Elvenking's animated verses with a dashing chorus tagged on its tail that never runs on empty. Sure these are just two tracks, but I'll be cursed into eternity if both aren't some of the greatest creations produced under Elvenking's crest.

Surprisingly though, the folk factor - one could say the only unitary item in Elvenking's music - quietly dismounts itself as the group's primary act of magnetism, instead allowing the band to focus on riffs and basic power metal without the urgency to throw in a violin just because violins are folk, which makes Elvenking folk, hurr hurr. "Red Silent Tides" simply appears more relaxed and to the point; no need to apply massive productions or ideas just because, thankfully. Occasionally there are daft tracks which transform Elvenking’s yummy mountain of cheese into overblown filler, but that's to be expected, and considering the massive turnaround "Red Silent Tides" represents, I'd say it's a blessing they only screwed up two tracks or so.

I guess the tone I'm writing with sounds like I'm totally shocked this album doesn't completely self-destruct, but that's not true; this band has always shown potential and seem to have finally uncovered their golden deposit despite harsh times in the past. "Red Silent Dawn" serves a virtuous testament to one of existence’s often-ignored chapters, in case you missed it before: redemption happens, man. While definitely not a masterpiece in any placement, Elvenking thankfully evolved into a respectable faction capable of churning out cheesy (but good!) power metal, and maybe a poignant gem from time to time. Either way, Elvenking gets a high-five from this dude for their good work here.

This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com

Coming back from the ashes - 91%

PowerDaso, October 30th, 2010

I like to call Elvenking an innovative band. Sure, there are plenty folk/power metal bands out there creating nice music and all, but the case of Elvenking is unique. The first album I heard by them was their first, "Heathenreel", considered by most fans to be their best. I liked them from the very beginning since I found in them some type of Turisas without harsh vocals (being full length present in the songs). They had their downfall on "The Scythe" and I truly thought it would be over for them with it, but they managed to have their way out (thanks to the fans, possibly) and on 2010 they came up with "Red Silent Tides".

"Red Silent Tides" is, indeed, a different album. In comparison to "Wyrd" or "Heathenreel" the music has changed a lot. First of all, there is a better production that on the other albums. Having the album produced by no other than the legendary Dennis Ward, there is nothing less to expect. The guitars have a deeper and better distorted sound. The rhythmic section of them doesn’t follow strict riff sequences. Instead, they go along with chord progressions to back up the vocals much better. Damnagoras did it perfectly again. His voice is still as powerful and tuned as always. In the mix for this album he gets his voice layered, which is somewhat of an improvement, but I must say I preferred it when it wasn't layered. Even though most of the songs are slower or a bit more poppy, the drums get to follow some extreme patterns at times. Zender does a good job in the percussion. He doesn't overshadow the guitars at all, and the cymbals even help accenting them (the guitars). Of course, since the songs are poppy, sometimes the drums get to be much slower and the rhythms get to be more basic. The bass isn't set too high in the mix, but the bits I can hear of it mostly follow the guitar. Elyghen's job in the band has changed. Before (on their first albums) the violin was the one to set the melodic and rhythmic patterns and standards. Now it often does the job that the keyboards should do: playing some root notes related to the guitars chord. It still delivers it job at times, but it's not the same. There are also some nice solos by the violin along the album playing some arpeggios or what not. The same goes for the guitar, but it has better solos. I must say that the solo sections actually have improved a lot, they are more interesting than before, but don't pretend to find a Malmsteen playing in here.

The album's atmosphere is not the same as the early albums, either. Now, this doesn't means you're going to listen to "The Scythe Pt.2". Most of the songs tend to be slower and kind of romantic, but they don't end in the cheesy phase (thankfully). The album is not an ambientalistic type of music, but it is quite easy to listen; I would dare to play it in a family reunion without any worry. The lyrics go into a deeper meaning. I feel they have some inspiration of the romantic stage from Stratovarius when referring to the lyrics. These lyrics are more self-reflective or relating to personal issues. Damnagoras voice (and attendance of backing vocals) helps to develop the lyrics much better and add more feeling to them.

Some songs show much more power than others. The song that stood out much more than others in the whole album would be "Possession" in my opinion. Damnagoras has an excellent showing of his voice, singing with strength in some parts, almost whispering with a really ballad type of voice in others, and just epically on the choruses. The guitars follow a beautiful chord progression most of the song and play a solo that isn't for showcasing, but for resembling emotions. At other times they are more percussive and follow the strong bass drum stomps by Zender. Besides this, it also has a good place in the album. Having all this mentioned, it isn't a song worthy of saying the whole album is like it. If you want one to deliver this job, then check out "Your Heroes Are Dead".

Elvenking has dared to take a new direction. They still have their usual folk elements, but they are deeper into the power metal world. This is a good album to keep stepping out from The Scythe's pit hole, along with its predecessor Two Tragedy Poets, which gives some influence to this masterpiece. I would recommend this album for sure, but not for first time listeners of the band.

A new vision of old pathways - 83%

MeatWolf, September 22nd, 2010

Started as a folk/power metal band, Elvenking deviated from their folk basics with every subsequent album, first taking more power metal direction with The Winter Wake and then suddenly releasing a dark conceptual opus dealing with various death matters – The Scythe. Incorporating down-tuned guitars, melodic death riffs and harsh vocals in abundance, this album received much of a negative feedback, but was unexpectedly followed by an acoustic folk rock-ish Two Tragedy Poets, which brought back the interest for the audience. Red Silent Tides, new “metal” effort of Elvenking, doesn’t offer such harsh experiments as The Scythe did but definitely is a new step on the road of band’s creative journey. The songs are written in a much more straightforward fashion, meaning there are neither real novelties nor even already known “oldities” such as female vocals, piano interludes, screams, entirely acoustic songs or epics. There is little left from the early records as well, so Heathenreel & Wyrd faithful followers would rather check some other record. This one is just about five metal guys and one violinist playing their honest, cheerful and catchy music.

The album was produced and mixed by Dennis Ward, who also worked with such bands as Pink Cream 69, Angra and Primal Fear. This is the basic and sole reason for hard rockish sound, drastically different from any previous album (if you play 16.6 of Primal Fear, you’ll get the good idea of Dennis’ production style). Blurred guitas, solid drumming, all supporting charismatic and recognizable vocals of Elvenking’s frontman, Damnagoras. Ranging from soft whispers and delicate tones among the acoustic and ballad sections to powerful multifaceted clean singing, creating both calm narrative and bombastic mood, his voice is the true nexus of this record. Backed by prominent leads, stepping just in time to emphasize the “metal” factor, it builds up a perfect melodic framework, while the violin, no less perceptible than before, adds an indicative tincture to that foundation. Despite the obvious vocal focus, the music doesn’t end there and a lot of blazing good riffs, swift solos and ace-high acoustic and fiddle passages emerge here and there across the album.

One can’t say the folk influence is conspicuous this time, in fact, it’s not so noticeable without the proper insight, manifesting itself in occasional backgrounds. The album is dominated by power metal harmonies and guitars (Your Heroes Are Dead, Dawnmelting, The Cabal and Runereader are typical mid-period Elvenking’s songs), which were always the most important part of band’s music, and hard rock tempos and rhytms invasion (Those Days could’ve been a topper straight from ‘80s if sung with someone like, say, Jorn Lande, other than that such compositions as What’s Left Of Me, The Play Of The Leaves or This Nightmare Will Never End can be mentioned), thus introducing both familiar and new sides of Elvenking.

But what makes this all worth it is, of course, the melodies themselves. On Heathenreel, The Winter Wake, Two Tragedy Poets, pick any album, there are at least several songs with over-the-top melodic fertility, and Red Silent Tides is no exception to that practice. The Cabal is your typical hit single with various catchy themes, Silence De Mort offers an eerie atmosphere and a killer chorus that will just stuck in your head no matter what, Runereader leans towards an epic sound with its sublime acoustic and keyboard passages, Your Heroes Are Dead shows what furious guitar playing at full pace is about, a smashing piece of music with insane leading guitar melody. Not every track will open its heart before the listener from the first play but rest assured, the songwriting level here is stronger than ever, meaning not only the presence of aforementioned highlights but also no fillers at all, because there’s something precious to unveil in each song.

For good or for bad, Red Silent Tides with its peculiarities and cachets marks a new milestone of “never-the-same” approach for Elvenking, testifying that The Last Hour is still distant for these musicians, they surely are not past their creative peak and have something to amuse their both old and new listeners with.