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A break from the past; a prospective future? - 85%

Derigin, December 3rd, 2014
Written based on this version: 2014, Digital, Independent

Lords of the Mountain is a band comprised of some of Calgary's most talented musicians in its fledgling folk/black metal scene. Following the release of its debut demo, The Journey Began, and a one-off concert at Calgary's Noctis festival, the band went on an indefinite hiatus. Undoubtedly, it's no small wonder that seven years later, with the release of its single, Dawn, the members of the band no longer felt compelled to continue the direction set forth by the band's first demo. Without getting into too much detail, The Journey Began is your standard fare of viking/folk metal. Although on a technical level the demo is a quality, professional release, the music, the lyrical content, and even the band's name all reflect the Tolkien-inspired style of folk metal that was all the rage at the turn of the century. The Journey Began is certainly no exception to the rule; "epic" melodic riffs, steady drumming, peppered with flutes and horns, compound meter acoustic solos and tempered harsh vocals.

Dawn is a definite, intended break from the past and that particular style. Choosing instead to hone their skills for the purpose of creating "instrumental folk metal," the band has shifted its focus towards, at least in their own words, combining folk metal with the atmospheres best attributed to the scores of video games such as Warcraft, Skyrim and the Final Fantasy series. What does this mean from a musical standpoint? Admittedly, it is what you might expect it to be. Atmospherically, Dawn is well-suited as an overworld theme of a vast, unexplored digital world. Beginning with a solid intro, featuring an acoustic solo, the single thereafter erupts into melodic folk metal riffs carried forward slowly by the skilled, consistent hand of Griffin Kissack's drumming. Reflecting its past work, Lords of the Mountain offer melodic folk metal at its finest, though without the fast-paced, aggressive tempo and the reliance on flutes and horns that characterized the band's previous demo.

Dawn is a steady, acceptable take on instrumental folk metal, but is it revolutionary? The band claims that the single not only represents a change of direction for the band, but for folk metal in general. The honest truth is that, despite that claim, this single isn't that extraordinary. Granted as a release type singles rarely, if ever, foster change in a scene or a style, instrumental folk metal (and metal in general) inspired by the works of video game artists is nothing new. The difference lies in how poorly it is pulled off and how shallow or superficial the attempt appears. Fortunately, Dawn is neither. Arguably, it is difficult to judge the sincerity of that direction from a single track, though I have no doubt - given the band's record - that an EP or full-length would be a similarly successful work of art. While the fact that it's a single track doesn't amount to much, Dawn is a well-produced, quality single that provides a "sample" of enjoyable instrumental folk metal with a video-game-inspired atmosphere. As a digital single, at least at the time of writing you can currently find it on the band's Bandcamp.