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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.