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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.