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Just to begin with, this is my first review on a metal album ever, hell it’s even my first review on anything remotely musical, but I’ll try to write that as good as I can.
Rivendell is a one-man folk black metal project from Austria, my home country just to mention, consisting of sole member Falagar, who handles all instrumental duties, does the vocals and the lyrics. Wait! He doesn’t actually write most of the lyrics, as his project’s name might imply, Rivendell’s lyrical content is the world of Middle-Earth, created by J.R.R. Tolkien, whose work is Falagar’s main lyrical source.
If one is told about “epic black metal from Austria about The Lord of the Rings”, he might immediately think of Summoning, masters of heavily synth-based atmospheric black metal, containing the aforementioned lyrical subjects. This association actually is quite misleading, as contrary to Summoning, Rivendell uses mostly clean vocals, which are very reminiscent of Falkenbach; the first two Rivendell albums were even released on Vratyas’s label Skaldic Art, and has lots of folk elements, not only folk-tinged guitar riffs are to be found on this record, it also features many instruments used in folk music, like flutes and a sitar. I can not clearly tell which of these instruments are made using a synthesizer, and which Falagar plays as real instruments, but most sound very realistic, so it does not really matter. In my opinion Rivendell should be called just folk metal, as they don't have enough black metal elements to justify the term "folk black metal".
Now from the comparison with other bands and some of the general aspects of Rivendell’s music, onto to what we find on the seven tracks of Farewell: The Last Dawn. The basis of Rivendell’s compositions mostly consists of pretty simple, melodic guitar riffs with a folky, epic sound that does not really touch typical black metal riffing (no frequent tremolo picking), as the genre description given on MA might lead to think. Normally these riffs create a flowing, solid fundament, on which the other instruments, most notably the acoustic guitars and the folk instruments/synths are layered. An exception to this is the sixth track “Back To Lands We Once Did Know”, which features heavier riffing with a strong focus on rhythm, it’s also the most black metallish song on this record, not very astonishing since it’s a re-recording of a song on Rivendell’s demo, released under the name of “Fangorn” in 1998.
As I began talking about the fundament of Rivendell’s music in the last paragraph, I’ll just continue that; the part of a metal album called basis are normally the drums, which do not play a very high role on Farewell: TLD, the beats Falagar plays are not complex, but effective, he also throws in some small fills at the right times. Most of the times the drums are not fast, there are close to no blast beats found here.
It is noticeable that, unlike most black metal bands, Rivendell has clearly audible bass guitar, a fact I not only appreciate because I myself play this instrument, but also because I think the bass, which mostly follows the guitars enhances the music quite a bit. I especially like the parts, where you don't have any guitars, and the music is just keyboard, flute and bass.
So far about the fundament of Falagar’s music, nothing mind blowing, but good; however don’t forget the icing on the cake, in Rivendell’s case this is lead guitars, acoustic guitars (lots of them, mostly chords played over the distorted, fundamental riffs) and folk instruments, which are used extensively, but never too much. They not only create a kind of feeling and emotion, which blends very well with their lyrical themes; on “The Old Walking Song” these elements even form an great oriental atmosphere, something not expected by an Austrian band making music about LotR.
Finally there are the vocals, Falagar uses two types of them, clean baritone singing in the vein of Falkenbach (a vocal style I admire a lot, so I may be a little bit biased here) and many other folk metal bands, which is, while not being the greatest output from human vocal chords to ever come across my ears, well done and fits the music. The other vocal style is a typical black metal rasp, nothing special about that, which isn't used too much.
I’d like to notice that Farewell: TLD is rather short, clocking at 42 minutes, and containing a few minutes of unnecessary silence on the last track, proceeding a hidden instrumental song.
All in all, this album is a very good, high quality folk metal release, recommended to every fan of this genre, you just should not expect something absolutely fantastic or original, as Rivendell’s latest output isn’t.