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This is it; the big one. The one that everybody has been talking about since… the day it was released, I guess. Okay, it’s not that famous of an album, but when it comes to Elvenking, this is pretty much the pinnacle of their career. It’s the band’s Ride the Lightning. It’s similar to what The Ocarina of Time was to the Legend of Zelda franchise. Every other game that came after, people expected them to be as good as OoT. So, fans always expect their new material to be as amazing as great as Winter Wake was. Is it as good as everyone says? Short answer: yes. Long answer: here we go:
This release is pretty Elvenking-ish. There is those fiddle based riffs, with some heavy guitar tones sprinkled throughout the musical landscape. The choruses, for the most part, are sung in choirs, and remind me of a less potent (and somehow flamboyant) Orden Ogan. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad. This whole album isn’t as potent as Orden Ogan. And that’s the key word, well, words: Isn’t as. This album isn’t as folkish as Skyclad or Eluveitie (not that Eluveitie was ever that a folk to begin with). As I mentioned, not as potent as Ogan, it’s not as heavy as that, nor atmospheric as that. It’s as if The Winter Wake is stuck in his own little world of making so much with so little. And that’s impressive! The guitar hooks and main riff of “The Devil’s Carriage” is unbe-fucking-lievable. The Winter Wake (song) is pretty impressive as well; it’s the only chorus that I can affirm to you: that’s power metal.
Remember how I said in my “Era” review that Simone Morettin is the best drummer ever? Well, Zender is not, but he is close. While some beats are generic, i.e. Swallowtail, Rouse Your Dream, there are some insane shit here. Never Ending Nights, The Devil’s Carriage, and The Wanderer showcases how versatile and creative Zender can be. Alongside him, stands Gorlan, who keeps his bass audible throughout the record and is up to par with the rest of the band, that, as I stated before, are freaking awesome.
Winter Wake came out in 2006, after the release of Wyrd, which featured another vocalist who replaced Damna for one album only. Now Damnagoras is back as the singer, and he does a fantastic job. Trows Kind is a weird song, it feels structure-less and just meanders through some beats, which reminds me: this album is heavy! I don’t mean death metal heavy, not like the guttural in this album do any good (we’ll get to that later). I mean the drums and the bass both have a sturdy line which I thought wouldn’t mix well with the vocals and guitar, but the contrast is nice. What isn’t nice is the fiddle. Usually, the fiddle, violin or whatever it’s called, helps the song turn lively and jolly. However here… it does not. Don’t tell the band yet, but I think Elyghen was already dead. Probably he died in the midst of recording, because some songs, such as Rats are Following, Rouse Your Dream, March of the Fools, the violin does feel alive. However, in songs such as Neverending Nights, Swallowtail, and Devil’s Carriage, he feels bored out of his mind, and that damages some of the songs. Speaking of the fiddle, there are some moments where is clear that it is supposed to be light and joyful, but the heavy drums and bass, coupled with the bad production, makes any whimsical moment into a catastrophe.
The gutturals, oh those screams and those grunts… pre-teen shirtless metalcore vocalists have better range and technique than these guys when it comes to harsh voices. Some are done by Aydan and some by Damna, but both sucks. They feel forced, out of place, and bad. Very, very bad.
A fellow reviewer have pointed out that this album is credited as power and folk hybrid when it isn’t any of those. I hate to admit that he is right. None of this songs feels power metal. The chorus' are always done in, as I stated before, a less powerful Orden Ogan. The guitar riffs feel like they could be put in a power song, but the band refuses to follow them, so there’s a weird mix. It’s neither power nor folk; it’s Elvenking. They have always struggled to find a style to play along, and never did. However, this doesn’t mean the songs aren’t enjoyable; fuck no, but I understand that this might get some people pissed off.
If you are an Elvenking fan, you probably already own this album, and if you don’t you should; it’s an amazing album. However, if you never heard the band before, it is a good start. Buy it for a regular price.
Of all the albums put out by Elvenking, their somewhat controversial 3rd album “The Winter Wake” is probably the most readily misunderstood. I accent the “somewhat” in the nature of this album’s controversial status in that the polarization connected with it is far less concentrated than that of the overtly emo sounding “The Scythe” (an admitted nod to My Chemical Romance) and the dramatic line up shift that occurred on “Wyrd”. To put it in layman’s terms, the sheer innovation and excellence of “Heathenreel” could be chalked up to a freshman fluke given the numerous lineup shifts and stylistic revamps that have happened since. It can be chalked up to the band not being able to maintain its focus, and it does show to a fair extent on this album.
This is an album that is defined by two elements: it’s catchy as hell choruses and the frequent violin breaks. Terms like pop metal and pop folk are understandably thrown around by many for a good reason, and it has to do primarily with the extremely stripped down, bare bones approach to songwriting taking place here. There’s a few occasional gimmicks here and there, including a rather overt synth pop keyboard intro to the song’s title track (further underscoring the album’s pop nature), but generally this album is defined by straight rock riffs and playful acoustic balladry. Now this band has never really been much about technical feats, but contrary to some who wrongfully label this album as being too experimental, this album is the mirror opposite of progressive.
But make no mistake, song for song, this album does a fairly decent job for what it seeks to do, but the intended goal is not nearly as ambitious as previous efforts. Even longer winded and slightly adventurous numbers like “Trows Kind” and “Neverending Night” tend to fall into a formulaic ritual of recapping familiar sections with very little variation, mostly in switching between acoustic and electric instruments but maintaining the same melodic structure. The loss of guitarist and harsh vocal contributor Jarpen is definitely felt here as the few decent growls are provided by Schmier on the title song, and the rest is attempted by Damna with less than stellar results. It’s not quite overt at this point, but there is definitely a general hint at an influence by bands like Atreyu and My Chemical Romance when looking at the vocal approach here, though truthfully Damna’s vocals have always been a tiny bit on the emo side.
The place where this album generally excels is actually during the mostly acoustic songs, which also tend to be among the shorter offerings. Enticing visions of woodland merriment with a dash of sorrowful yearning paint the picture of “On The Morning Dew”, a song that makes charming usage not only of the band’s strong Celtic influences, but also some masterful flute and violin work, and a beautiful guest female vocal slot. The overall feel of this song is that of a romantic folk dance between 2 partners, with only the trees as their sole witness. “Disillusions Reel” takes a slightly sadder and forlorn approach to the same general formula, putting a bit more emphasis on the guitars and Damna’s vocals, though a nice soprano counter-theme chimes in from time to time to further soften the feel of a very poignant and brief ballad.
Of all Elvenking albums not having the unfortunate status of being the commercialistic flop that was “The Scythe”, this is arguably the least essential for folk and melodic metal enthusiasts, but it is a worthy purchase for anyone who has already enjoyed the first 2 albums. The songs sort of run together a bit, but nothing comes off as overtly lackluster or terrible. The version with the Skyclad cover bonus song is definitely the one to look for as it brings a slight punk edge to an otherwise safe album with few twists and turns. In a sense, this album’s title is an honest assessment of the band’s situation; the wake of what would be a winter-like death of the band’s creative faculty in the name of genre hopping, but the wake itself is not so terrible as its aftermath would be a mere year later.
Heathenreel, though not a very consistent release, had some of my favorite Elvenking songs on it - Seasonspeech and Conjuring of the 14th. These songs had a very epic, dynamic feel and although they were not very catchy and sounded a bit immature, they had all the making of a genuine folk metal song in my opinion.
I hadn't listened to anything else by Elvenking until their 2006 release, The Winter Wake. After giving it my first listen all those years ago, I realized Elvenking had taken quite a turn in their musical direction. With Trow's Kind, I immediately noticed the violin completely leading the music while the guitars hovered in the back playing simple power chords. The music was more mature, but at the same time was definitely not as complex and had a more "pop" sound to it than the epic folk metal sound a song like Seasonspeech had. The song structure was much more predictable and simplistic, but this was not a bad thing; To me, it made it a very fun album to listen to Though it was different and, in my ears, not as great, I gave it my approval and stamped it as a solid release.
My favorite song on the album would be The Wanderer. The Wanderer is the poster boy, single of the album and with good reason. To me, it completely defines the album; a fun, simple, energetic and catchy song with a sing-a-long chorus and beautifully crafted violin melodies while the guitar takes a somewhat backseat. One of my honorable mentions is Rouse Your Dream, which is borderline cheesy in lyrical content, but has a special, optimistic aura about it, a very feel-good song. The other mention is The Winter Wake, which at first listen is some sort of strange hybrid between electronic and classic rock (complete with some of the most amusing and flat out bizarre opening vocals I have ever heard) but comes back to folk metal with a beautiful acoustic interlude that is followed up with a decently rocking guitar solo.
The album has a couple of acoustic songs in it, which are always welcome to me, since I believe Elvenking writes some of the best acoustic folk songs in the field (check out Two Tragedy Poets if you don't believe me). The song On The Morning Dew is a sappy, yet very pretty duet with applaudable female vocals supported by guitar and violin. The other acoustic song, Disillusion's Reel is my favorite of the two, with solid vocal work by Damnagoras backed up by equally solid guitar work by Aydan.
All in all, The Winter Wake isn't a masterpiece; it has its fair share of lethargic tunes that have some very awkward song structure and vocals but in between these parts are some truly good and entertaining listens. It may not be true metal but... honestly what does it matter? At the end of the day if the music is enjoyable and you walk away nodding your head in approval and at the catchy chrous' now etched into your mind, it's a solid release. Don't try to enjoy it as an magnum opus; take it for what it's worth and enjoy the folk pop-rock that is The Winter Wake.
Elvenking play a mixture of power metal and folk music with some little progressive, thrash or death influences that are not yet that present on this album.
This album was my introduction to the band. The first song of this album, "Trows kind" was the first song I've known from them and when I first listened to it, I thought that this song was too fast, too hectically and too overloaded. But when I listened another few times to this song - that was on a compilation album of the famous German Rock Hard magazine that I had bought - this song extremely grew on me. There are so many changes in style in this song that you could almost call it a progressive one. Choirs, melodic chants, growling, whispering, spoken words and female vocals are present in this song just to mention the vocal diversity of this song. That creates a very unique sound.
The title track "The winter wake" is another experimental song with Schmier from the German Thrash Metal Band Destruction on the vocals. This songs surprises with an electronically influenced introduction before it is based on harsh vocals and bass guitar riffs. The typical power and folk elements of the band are only added a little bit later and this song sounds quite unique.
The other nine songs present mostly very solid ("March of fools") to rather average power folk songs ("Rouse your dream") but sometimes, the band creates too many kitsch lyrics and choruses that are not that much profound and heavy ("Swallowtail"). It is nice to listen to those songs and especially the first half of the album is very catchy, but too many songs go into rather the same direction what is a sad thing, because the two outstanding songs are the most interesting ones and I have waited for more after that.
If the band would have gone in the very original direction of the opener and the title track, this album would have been something revolutionary and extremely interesting. But as final result, I must say that this is a well done average power folk metal album with two very interesting experimental songs.
So, your band has just recorded a good album with a vocalist who was better in every way than his predecessor. This album may have been reviled by some, but overall the quality was high and the album was pretty much more than the sum of the members that created it. So, what do you do? Bring back your original vocalist who never sounded good, eschew your music of everything that made your sophomore album sound great and go back to writing music exactly like the stuff you recorded for your amateurish debut album, only now with no excuse for sounding this amateurish?
Well, that would just be retarded, wouldn’t it? I mean, no band in their right minds would ever do such a thing, would they? It’s positively inconceivable that a band like, um, Elvenking for example, would ever do such a thing! Well, too bad, because they did, and it sucks just as hard as you would think. Folks, brace yourselves…this is The Winter Wake. Put on your snow-boots, tighten your scarves and let’s dig right into this pit of decrepit melting ice.
There is just…nothing about this that is in any way engaging. It’s third-rate, bargain bin level crap without one lick of integrity at all. Every note is processed and calculated to a dull sheen, lacking power and cohesion as the band stumbles through every cluster of riffs and half-assed folk melodies, trying desperately to release this album so they can go back to humping chickens, or whatever it is they do in their spare time. Heinous!
Right from the start, Elvenking bores. “Trows Kind” is really a spectacle, drawing on every cliché you’d expect and somehow not being even one bit endearing or enjoyable. It’s about as spirited as a coma patient and the song goes through several time changes and whiddly jamborees of songwriting clutter, never conjuring up anything you’ll remember in its entire six minutes. Further songs do not impress, with only slight instances with passable riffs and melodies, like the nice groove the title track lays down and the catchy choruses of “Devil’s Carriage” and “Rats are Following.” But those are the exceptions rather than the rule. Most of this is just uneventful, uncreative shash, like the dull “Swallowtail,” the horrendous “Rouse Your Dream,” which reinforces everything this band ever did wrong, or the overlong and under-imaginative “Neverending Nights,” which should have just been called “Neverending Boredom.”
Isn’t this the kind of thing you expect a band to release on their third album? I mean, who needs progression and depth to music when you can just rehash your debut album with a different production and people will still eat it up! God, what a load. Nothing on here is even remotely charming. Damnagoras enunciates poorly, the riffs change tempo and style every thirty or forty seconds and everything is piled on top of everything else with no regard for anything anyone with a brain cell would want to hear. Vomitous; it’s a mess. Don’t these guys have any notion of improving upon themselves at all? There DOES come a time when a band has to start making their sound better. This is just stupid, is what it is. At one point in time this sound coming from Elvenking was endearing, but that was half a decade before this album came out, and by the release of it, this whole thing comes off as more embarrassing than anything. It just sounds like they aren’t trying very hard.
Bottom line? This album is terrible! What a wimpy, weak excuse for Power Metal; what a terrible joke. The Winter Wake, for everything crammed into it, is just too boring and too derivative of older material to stick out, and it is especially unacceptable after their last album was so promising. This is the very definition of a throwaway album, plain and simple. My advice is, just turn this off; it is not even memorable enough to leave a lasting impression. You’ll forget about this piece of plastic in a few days tops.
Elvenking likes to experiment with each album. They don’t seem to know exactly what type of music they want to play. Heathenreel was a folk like album, while Wyrd was a more straightforward power metal version of that, and on The Winter Wake Elvenking decided to experiment with all kinds of genres ranging all the ways from a brief glimpse of techno, and all the way to even punk. Punk is the only real major change in sound on The Winter Wake when compared to the previous albums Heathenreel and Wyrd. Everything has been influenced on punk music from around the 90’s or so, like in the vocals, bass, and drums.
Damnagoras is back performing the vocals on this album, unlike Kleid who provided the vocals on Wyrd. Right away you will notice that Damnagoras sings in a nasal tenor voice, which is mostly found in a punk rock band like The Misfits. His voice fits in with the music for the most part for the songs themselves have a lively amount of energy given off generally from the choruses. Backup choruses are all very catchy and are not overdone by any means. Like every Elvenking album the harsh vocals don’t properly fit anywhere. “The Winter Wake” is a great song when it is played acoustic, but it’s not so much on this album. The harsh grunts don’t sound right, it would be so much better without them. The song itself is rather generic; the techno like intro and the choruses are the only things that make the song stand out for the guitar part is mostly basic chugging, and the violin is just a rhythm section on it.
When I listen to the previous albums from Elvenking like Heathenreel I always notice the acoustic or folk passages, those seem to be missing on The Winter Wake. I consider this to be a downer because what made Elvenking stand out the most to me is no longer there. Everything has been dubbed down into a more generic power metal album with bits of punk influences here and there. This is accentually the biggest problem on The Winter Wake for me that the album sounds like nothing like Heathenreel or Wyrd. The only exception would be “On the Morning Dew” which is the only real folk song on here, with the acoustic guitar and the violin following a rhythm pattern and the flutes and vocals leading the song along. Most of the songs do not follow along the lines of the average folk song; instead they follow along the average punk song. Choruses are all sung by the entire band in a vigorous fashion. The bass work is probably what stands out the most for me; it’s very audible with a lot of distortion in it to give it a metallic sound. The drumming doesn’t really stand out, a lot of basic rock beats, mostly bass pedal is being used, although it still is far from mediocre.
This isn’t really a great album, and the fact that it’s rather generic makes it one of Elvenking’s weakest albums. Well The Scythe is said to be their weakest album but I don’t own that one, so The Winter Wake is the weakest Elvenking album in my collection. They tried something different which I didn’t really like, but it still turned out better than I expected. I would only recommend this album for the fans of Elvenking for the casual listener might find it a bit generic and stale.
I've always been partial to Elvenking's unique take on folk metal, and I'm a huge fan of Damnagoras' voice. The Winter Wake marks his return to the band after a brief separation due to health issues. The band's third full-length sadly doesn't recreate the luster of the majestic "Heathenreel", however it is still an incredibly strong, varied release in its own right.
I'll start with Damna. His trademark nasal voice just sounds great here. Interspersed throughout are some death growls as well, a point of some contention with critics of the band. Regardless, he covers a lot of bases here, and helps give Elvenking its trademark sound through his voice. An interesting foray of guest musicians debut as well, including Schmier of Destruction fame on the album's self-titled track. Laura De Luca provides a brilliant performance with Damnagoras in "On the Morning Dew", the album's only true love song.
Aydan is a brilliant guitarist, lending a hard rock sound that blends well with the folk melodies of the violin. He doesn't play with reckless abandon or speed, just precision and intelligence. I am particularly fond of his performance in "Devil's Carriage"; one of the album's quicker numbers. A very superb production job lends the spotlight to bassist Gorlan from time to time, and in a refreshing manner, we can actually hear and appreciate the bass lines.
This leaves Elyghen and Zender (Who comes up with these names, anyway?) Elyghen is literally the driving force of the band's folk influences. He is a dually talented musician, as he plays keys and violin. More prominent is his contribution with the violin, as all songs feature beautiful violin solos and passages that are in many cases more captivating than guitar solos. The keyboard rears up far less often, but adds it's own ambiance to the folk foray on display here. Zender is a skilled drummer; much like Aydan, he plays steadily and methodically, rarely even busting out the double-bass. Regardless, his innovation is welcomed, and he gives Elvenking a solid rhythm backbone.
The Winter Wake is an average-length album. Most tracks are around four minutes in length. My particular favorites are the opener "Trow's Kind", "The Wanderer", and the epic "Neverending Nights". Every track is unique and offers something new, there is no real filler here, just a few average cuts. I will say that "Devil's Carriage" is the weakest offering here. As stated above, the album benefits from a very clear, balanced production and of course, five very skilled musicians. I dig these guys, lets hope they can rebound from the extremely lackluster "The Scythe" and return to this kind of form.
The Winter Wake; Elvenking's third full-length offering is an exceptional album which features what would become Elvenking's first line-up to hold up for more than one release.
This Italian quintet is in fine form here, with Damnagoras giving a passionate vocal performance, simple-but-catchy rhythm and tasteful melodic leads from Aydan (as well as Elyghen) and very solid drum work from Zender. Not much to be said about the bass, frankly.
Typical of a folk metal band, there are indeed acoustic tracks, two in fact; one being an upbeat, almost bouncy piece featuring Laura de Luca in a duet with Damna ("On the Morning Dew") and the other being a more mid-tempo, yet just as jangly song led by an acoustic guitar and Damna's vocals and reflective lyrics ("Disillusion's Reel"). The latter serves as the album closer, and not only serves the role, but works so well it earns a spot among the highlights. It'll stick in your head for days.
There are some definite gems on this album that no fan of the band should pass up. The title track features Destruction's Schmier and also a guest solo by former band member Jarpen. With an attention-grabbing keyboard intro that explodes into a heavy mid-tempo section, contrasting vocals between Damna and Schmier, an infectious chorus, a violin lead and two great solos, this is one of the best songs in EK's catalogue. "Devil's Carriage" is a blazing track, one of their fastest and more in the vein of power metal than folk. The violin mostly takes a backseat and the drums get a nice workout. There's a little wind/string section in the middle that somehow fits in very well, adding a little sugar to an already spicy track. I also have to point out "The Wanderer", a fast song with uplifting lyrics, clever bridge sections, nice snare/double-kick work complimenting a violin lead and the best chorus of the entire album.
The rating suffers due to a few minor issues. "Rouse Your Dream" has one of the best vocal melodies and a nice intro, but doesn't really take off and thus doesn't stand out for me, losing my interest before the second verse. It reminds me a bit of "Trows Kind", the album opener, but much weaker. "Swallowtail", though a decent track, feels awkward coming into the first chorus... it takes a very long time, with the verse/lead-in lasting a little too long for its own good. Also, no Jarpen (besides the guest solo) means the backing vocals suffer quite a lot. This also means no more contributions in the songwriting obviously, and based on the fine products of his writing on the debut and sophomore efforts, I think he would've helped make this an even stronger album.
All in all, this is a very solid full-length that should have a place in any Elvenking fan's collection. To new listeners of the band, I'd more quickly point them in the direction of Heathenreel, though this isn't a bad place to start whatsoever.
Stand-out tracks: The Wanderer, The Winter Wake, Devil's Carriage, Disillusion's Reel
It’s easy to understand why folk metal doesn’t always work. It’s even easier to understand why it’s the most consistently and easily dismissed genre in all of metal. Tradition itself is against it. Metal is about anthems and raised fists. Folk is about reflection and forest whispers. So what you now need to do is forget everything I just said.
The problem is that someone forgot to show Elvenking the script. The result is that they’ve come up with an album that’s every bit as heavy in execution, as it is haunting in its invented folklore. Make no mistake – this one smokes like an ancient forest on fire.
The songwriting duties are pretty much divided between vocalist Damnagoras and guitarist Aydan. They both deliver on every single track. Although it’s Aydan who keeps throwing up instant classics like an archer with arrows that appear out of nowhere. And who never, ever misses.
The album opener “Trows Kind” is the perfect introduction to the band’s brand of folk and riff driven power metal. The guitars are layered with violins layered with keyboards layered with background vocals – and the end result is a near symphonic explosion of hooks and harmonies. “Swallowtail” by Damnagoras is track no.2 and is a one way ticket to exactly the same place. You’ll quickly learn Damnagoras is big on storytelling with a dark twist. He’s rarely in a hurry to get to the chorus, but the journey’s always worth it.
The title track by Aydan is a killer. We’re talking serving consecutive life sentences here. You get an unexpected pulsing keyboard intro suddenly smashed up against a crumbling power chord wall of sound with Schmier and Damnagoras in an even more unexpected vocal duel that follows. Yep, you sort of get the feeling they threw everything at this one and it deserves it. Prepare to have a ringing in your ears for a long time afterwards.
The 3 middle tracks (also by Aydan) are more reflective, but this isn’t a band that stands still for even a second. Every single song features a hook with stadium written all over it. “Devil’s Carriage” is Damnagoras again, this time in one hell of a hurry, and out to explode your speakers with a wicked and racing riff that must have been recorded when the band were running out of studio time. Think fast, catchy and then some.
And when the two songwriters do join forces for “Rats Are Following”, the result is a wicked and brilliant metaphor that doubles as a commentary on how-to-write-bad-pop-songs. Or bad – been done – metal for matter.
If all of the above hasn’t sold you yet, then just skip straight to “Rouse your Dream”. It’s so catchy that it makes the rest of the album sound like fillers. From the dramatic grand piano prelude to the anthemic verses to the soaring chorus and heartbreaking violin break – this one’s the human spirit writ large. And loud.
So it isn’t even a case of forgetting everything you’ve ever heard about folk metal. Because sadly a lot of it is true. But what this album does do is pick up Wacken and bring it down in the middle of a forest clearing. Seriously.
When I was first getting into Viking/folk/Pagan metal, I had heard this band, and Ensiferum. Many people I talked to said they preferred this worthless band to the mighty Ensiferum. This is simply beyond my comprehension. Why? - this is why ...
The first seconds of this disc start off promising enough. Slightly generic, but energetic and melodic. But with every moment, it becomes increasingly apparent this album is not what it is labeled as. Both in terms of style and how highly praised this band is.
Everything I heard about this band is complete hyperbole. Not only is this music generic, weak, vapid and clearly "trying too hard", but it's hardly folk or power metal. It's really closer to an emo band with a violin.
The choruses are gang-sung, pop punk sounding things. They have no power, no balls, and are thrown in the structure of the song excessively. There are emo sounding refrains where the vocalist whines annoyingly. This vocalist clearly has never heard a ballsy power metal album in his life. He sounds like he’s (intentionally) whining and sobbing. Sometimes singing lower, and trying to sound menacing - dragging out a low spoken word type of singing, sounding like new In Flames. Another credit to this album being completely NOT power or folk metal. Both those genres are typically relatively upbeat, epic, powerful and very energetic - those would be the last words I’d use to describe this release.
The guitarist seems a bit confused, staggering the line between what would be exhausted, weak power metal riffs, and pop punk, three chord riffs where the chords are strummed but once.
There are an over abundance of acoustic parts, where they strum away listlessly, trying to no avail to wring some emotion out of their instruments. It’s akin to when emo bands do this sort of thing, with the addition of a flute and/or violin. The violin is the only tolerable part of this music. But it is too infrequent, and often makes very short appearances or is buried in the mix.
There are other moments where they show they can’t put together a song, or keep it coherent. The start of the title track makes you think you might have just stumbled into a Japanese rave club. A totally techno-sounding keyboard effect that sounds like it’ll soon break into pulsing beats without end. Seriously - I cannot express in words how utterly out of place and flamboyant this part is.
You might read this review and think I’m exaggerating the extent of the emo, punk, goth aspects of this album; but I assure you, I am not.
If I was discovering “metal” for the first time, this may be of a barely acceptable level.
If you want a great band in the style this band is trying to be, check out instead: Fjoergyn, Faulkenbach, Heidevolk, Korpiklaani, Moonsorrow, or Ensiferum.
This band is really a horrible representation of the genre it claims to be, and surely, being one of the more popular, hyped bands of it, give many potential fans the wrong impression.
Avoid at all costs.
On this their third reveal, Italian folk metal legends Elvenking revel in mystery and imagination. The Sacilian pathfinders have finally found their niche, and disentangled the silk dilemma. After several line-up changes and reconciling the dreadful strain from internal conflicts, and overbalancing the staid sound similar to so many other folk metal musicians, Elvenking have triumphantly resubmerged with an enlightened and rekindled spirit . Elvenking formed in October 1997 under the direction of guitarists Ayden & Jarpen. Damnagoras - the dweller of rhymes joined in March of '98 as their vocalist/bassist. Then, they released their demo "To the oakwoods bestowed" in 2000 and were soon signed by AFM-Records. Shortly thereafter, Gorlan joined to play bass, permitting Damnagoras to concentrate on perfecting his seasonspeech vocal duties. Their debut CD "Heathenreel" was a fast paced blend of Skyclad meets early Dark Tranquillity with lyrical concentration on the sherpa way of life and reverance for Mother Earth. Then in August 2002, Damnagoras departed and new singer Kleid joined the fold. Together with Elyghen, whom they enlisted as their keyboardist/violinist, they released their sophmore outing "Wyrd" enlivened by the famous book by Brian Bates who enthralled Martin and company to create Sabbat's "Dreamweaver". Many fans were disappointed with this effontery, so Damnagoras was reinstated into the band, but due to personal reasons, Jarpan was compelled to exit. Elvenking now present us with their jubilant, piquant and more polished poem for the firmament - "The Winter wake".
I relished the pagan purity of "Heathenreel" and gamboled to the dandy regality dance on "Wyrd" with it's infectiously haunting melodies. Although, as I ensconced myself in the march of fools pride, I enthusiastically anticipated the release of "The winter wake"; since I prefer Damnagoras on vocals. This CD truly is the masterful blend of both their other releases. The band has definitely matured and invented their own style of music without imitating those bands which ealier motivated them. This CD has many admirable qualities including: string arrangements, female choirs, and even some guest appearances by Nino Laurenne from Thunderstone soloing on the opening track "Trows Kind", and Schmier from Destruction joining Damnagoras in an eternal ban on the title track. Curse the Gods! Even without the dual guitar interplay of Ayden & Jarpen, the production mastered by Mika Jussila at Finnvox studios is superb. Even though most of the music and lyrics are written by Ayden, those tracks penned by Damnagoras are eccentric as well; especially "Neverendeing Nights" which includes an awesome guitar solo by Damnagoras, himself. This time the band have advanced and ventured lyrically by improving on their weird heathen realities with more focused storytelling. The subject matter is more metaphysical and the fairytales are gentile. Another admirable quality to the CD is the packaging and booklet which includes detailed artwork and descriptive pictures for each song. These artisitic impressions elucidate the more intrinsic essence of the song's girth. The import version even includes a Skyclad cover of "Penny Dreadful", which is one of my favorite Skyclad songs on "Irrational Anthems"!
Each song on this CD is quite ennobled. The more I listen to this, the more I celebrate the banquet of bards.. Stand-out songs like "The winter wake", "March of fools", "Devil's carriage", "Rouse your dream", and "Neverending nights" endorse a magnanimous manifest. It's a deliberate choice, and not a total desaster, selecting the German - Inventor of evil - Schmier to reject emotions and throttle out a thrash attack chorus for "The winter wake. United by hatred, the mad butcher" paradoixcally parleys with Damnagoras on the title track. Jarpen even assists by contributing a solicitious solo. Yet, given Schmier's confused mind, his most recent ritual "Alliance of hellhounds" features Messiah Marcolin, Biff Byford, Paul Di' Anno, Doro, and more classic metal artists. As I mentioned, the lyrics are just more profound and thought-provokingl. When this is augmented by such illustrious images in the CD booklet, it bedights the array and guides the listener on an enchanted magical inner journey. Open up and swallow the tale of "Swallowtail, a brooding yarn yielding the pusillanimous to beware of a witch, whom may just be a butterfly. This song becomes even more feral with Damnagoras imitating the Mercyful King's shrills heard through such denizens as "Them". "The Wanderer", is an upbeat melody for wayward souls searching for infinite truth and knowledge, through the pursuit of classic literature. There is a picture of a young boy standing amidst a swirling tower of caddy tomes and neverending stories. Following this is "March of fools" an iconoclastic reverberation with a wilted, knotty forest crag draped with inverted cisterns and a knight's helmet. This song envisions the wisdom recognized through an inward journey prevalent in us all. "I'm getting older, maybe I don't recognize. I'm yet too old for all this mind-blowing fair of insanity. When I was a kid, I promised myself I'd never grow up, but now wiser a bit I can see!". These words are lamented betwixt beauty and the beastlike affectations with Damnagoras singing more base, while female sopranist Pauline Tracey assumes a more angelic register. "This continues with the little ditty "On the morning dew" with female vocalist Laura de Luca joining Damnagoras in an eloquent duet, respendent with accoustic and flute arrangements.
Elvenking are not a band concerned with epic or fantasy type themes, but they do create intriguing percipient stories which blend so well with their stlye of music. Their weal and ethereal passages are more pronounced and played out. On a more straight forward metal cut like "Devil's carriage" with artwork showing a demon-like dragon being tamed under the big top circus tent. One feels as if he has embarked on a nightmarish, bumpy, and turbulent carriage ride to the midnight circus and onward through the nether regions of hell itself. "Rouse your Dream", which follows Elvenking's intrepid take on the pied-piper concept on "Rats are following", is another mystical reverie with images of Jacob's Ladder laminated. This track begins with bass and piano and then
emerges into a powerful, conceptual piece. "For every single day you live , for every fragment of your broken dream....start again and find your way to live - rouse your dream!". This is just so elevated and quixoitic. It's songs like this which bring elation to my mettle pulse. The real masterpiece of the CD is the last full-length track. "Neverending nights". This undulating reciprocity scored by Damnagoras has all the vitalities of metal with punishing drums, shredding guitars, and excellent choir arrangemnents. The chorus does not even occur until well after the middle of the song. The attendant personifying portrait depicts eeire inhabitants peering through sordid windows. This song even has the characteristics of some of the more mysterious Annihilator songs. The CD concludes with "Disillusion's reel" a quaint balladesque coda and a fatal portait of a forlorn bride surrounded by ravens.
Thus, with a fiery stride in the right direction, Elvenking have finally formulated the music found deep in their white willow whispers and wishes. "The winter wake" is ardent folk metal mellifluously and cautiously conducted by an entourage who intuit the fellowship and faith of folk metal. They know the rats are following in their footsteps, but their detractors have been led to the loser's ball! Elvenking encourage you to rouse your dream skywards on these neverending nights. Search inside, discover the wanderer and yet, another haven .To the oakwoods bestowed the oakenshield with hobs an' feathers under the tree of us'dom, behold the winter wake.
As originally posted on www.metalcdratings.com