without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Looking at the creators of this cd, I arrive at the conclusion that it isn’t the best name in the metal world. Hmm…The Storyteller...and this kitschy front cover with members in the foreground and some forest behind them; it looks like somebody took glue and inserted these stone-like people into the artificial greenery. It is really good work for kindergarten children. This is the beginning and things don’t look good, do they? Alright, for sure the main important matter is the music itself, and here I have to write that these Swedes from Gävle have prepared an absolutely stunning piece of metal! Although the album is entitled “Tales Of A Holy Quest”, in my personal ranking the word ‘holy’ turns to ‘metal’, so let’s start this emotional journey into the world of crushing heavy metal and the atrocious times of the Inquisition.
This is the third album by The Storyteller, but unfortunately I didn’t hear the previous ones. The fact is they don’t play death and black. Another fact is that L.G. Persson and company bathe in an excellent mix of heavy and power metal supported by the powerful production of Studio Fredman. I read one interview with Persson during his promotion of this work and there he said they esteemed Blind Guardian a lot (even about some influences). Maybe they love them, maybe they can build an altar for Germans, but musically The Storyteller is in another dimension, a much better dimension, definitely. Surely I can write that this stuff makes of the best heavy metal slabs released in the 21st century. Allowably, my first attention goes to the vocal effort. Here Persson is undeniably in top form, and I find some originality because no names of other vocalists come to my mind. I think this is rather a marriage of the best heavy power metal voices. Musically, the band does everything (fast, slow, and acoustic parts) in good proportion, which means that boredom doesn’t exist.
Writing about the musical side, I have to talk about lyrics because they are a very important part. They are created by L.G. Persson himself, writing a lyrical concept album based on the witch trials in Sweden during 1668-1676. His lyrics refer mostly to the fearful events that took place in Torsåker Parish. Each song is prefaced by words of explanation and it is really worthy of reading. Alright, let’s go to the first song called “Voices From The Past” which is, in fact, a short intro that turns into the proper track “Seed Of Lies”. Perfect for the start, the guitarists Fredrik Groth and Jacob Wennerqvist attack with hard riffs decorated by fresh melodious parts. All is mixed with tempos changing and some powerful backing vocals in the chorus. Also, I have to write about excellent guitar leads and short acoustic fragments that is the beginning of the second part of “Seed Of Lies”. As I stated earlier, this is an extremely good track, but appetite comes with eating, and here these Swedes don’t fail because with no time break, “Conviction” strikes without mercy. The title says it all (the victims had no chance before the court), and this is a fast, energetic track with a superb chorus and a two-piece solo lead. In addition, on the end there is a culminating point when the choir sings “Liberate me ex inferis!”. I am just under the impression that the musicians can vocally and musically take me into those days before the court and this is the absolute main advantage of this album.
Ok, the next three songs are nothing new compared to the previous killers: “A Holy Quest” (mid-tempo with a paralyzing guitar lead), “Words Out Of Greed” (probably the fastest one with a fascinating story), and “Chamber Of Torture” (no solo here, but after rapid beginning there is a mid-tempo tunes with an acoustic fragment). I slowly reach the next one called “The Mass” which has two parts. The first is acoustic with very calm, yet distinct singing when Persson defines all the prices for the common people believing in God, then after ninety seconds the track gets another ‘life’ as hard guitars dominate. Here the vocalist (with a choir in the chorus) sings about the punishment and fires of Hell waiting for the unbelievers and unfaithful ones. With the introduction written in the booklet, Persson asks many ‘uncomfortable’ questions and describes the basis of witch hunts. After some whiles of revery, “Blinded Eyes” brings fast tempos that turn into “When All Hope Has Faded”, the acoustic ballad where lyrics are only hypothetical, but completely true, and Persson presents thoughts of the accused about their families and friends: “they can hurt your body, but can’t take your soul”. With the next song, “Trails Of Blood” is an eight minute colossus, and the band makes a final step toward an inevitable and tragic end. The complexity of this song (fine guitar work, memorable vocals and tempo changes) is a big advantage as it helps make the atmosphere of those bloody two days where seventy poor and innocent people were decapitated and burned at the stake on a hill in Torsåker. The album is ended by the short outro “…And Still They Speak” and the ominous silence falls.
It is very seldom when a lyrical concept is so close to the overall songwriting. These elements are top level and make one inseparable entity. One fact is interesting in the case of the album: these eleven songs didn’t conquer my metal heart at once. I needed several careful meetings with “Tales…” and then I could say, yes, this is really great metal stuff and I can courageously write that this album is the best in heavy and power genre released in the 21st century. Sadly, The Storyteller is still in the deep underground, yet they managed to release one more album and split up. Fortunately, this year the Swedes have decided to come back, but I have to wait for some music news, so if you want to hear metal with balls with fascinating lyrics, you know what to do. And one thing to end this review: the outro is entitled “…And Still They Speak”, and I am one with the band that all these spirits are present and speak about murders through the album “Tales Of A Holy Quest".