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ZERO POINTS ....... ZERO POINTS!!!!!!!11 - 70%

oneyoudontknow, March 21st, 2021
Written based on this version: 2021, Digital, Independent

hell_unicorn's metal tour presents ...

So, this would be hells_unicorn's latest release and it had been taken off the compost heap after being discarded or ignored for roughly two decades; at least this way his post in the Metal Archives forum can be read. Presumably it was already or at least partially rotten, with the obvious impact on the listener, not to mention a certain type of odour that would come with it. Thankfully the first year of the Coronavirus Sars-Cov-2 pandemic helped in this regard, because with the all too common and often mandatory mask wearing, the band did not have to fear any repercussions in this regard; there is also a clear indication on the cover artwork, with one of the spectral figures wearing a protection over nose and mouth. Sadly, this lack of consistency, the one on the right refuses to do so, will be met with an immediate and merciless cut of points; see the end of the review; note 1.

The first aspect that raises some eyebrows is the clickbait band name. Of course it is ominous. Why can't it be striking or grand or merciless? No, it has to be ominous. Woohohoohooho. And then there is the title of the the release: "The Elven Dream". Not an elven dream! No, it is THE Elven dream, as if there would be no other. Is it one shared by all of those tree huggers? Hardly good coffee talk in the morning then, because all these acorn dust sneezer can bicker about is always the same old dream, the same old images, the same old topic. To be frank, this appears to be hardly something to look forward to. No wonder the elves chose to live outside the realm of the "common" folks, because who in a sane mind would like to see this horror spread to other people. Stuff needs to be contained!

Up to this point of writing about Ominous Potpourri, the person responsible for these lines has not listened to a single second of their music and see how far we have come already!

No, it is not as one would imagine. It is not the grand introduction, it is not the great procession one might hope for, it is not how Ottorino Respighi envisioned it for the procession of Roman soldiers along a road; note 2. The March of the Elf King appears rather subdued and reduced in sound and style. Wyrdly, there is an odd marching like motif, whose rhythms are definitely at odds on how people might portrait this race. Where is the loftiness, where is the otherworldly atmosphere and impression that such an elf might create and bring upon spectators or bystanders? While the Roman would impress through their appearance and numbers, the Elfs would do this with a mystical kind of luminance and looks that is on some level simply incomprehensible. Or as another argument, remember how Gimli, son of Gloin, is mocked by the elves for the way he walks in the Lorien forest? In terms of the music it does not get any better after this. First some odd guitars, then some screams, then some really strange sounding keyboards, but this increase in intensity is even less able to reflect with what had been lain out before. How is this able to go along with the topic at hand?

But, maybe it would be unfair to judge the band like this, maybe there is a certain idea in how all has to progress in the first track, maybe it all will lead up to an explosion of metal, like Rhapsody has done it numerous times on their first albums for instance. Sadly, it does not. For reasons that are utterly incomprehensible the track succeeding the opener was composed in such a way as to throw the band back to where they started on the album. Back to square one. What is the purpose of the first track then anyway? An utterly pointless waste of time. Once these empty minutes are over, the band realizes that it is necessary to get on some kind of pathway and which is then followed for the rest of the album.

As should not come as a surprise in terms of hell_unicorn, the music on this album is in the style of some kind of power metal. Or to be more precise 90/early 2000s power metal. Stuff from the days in which *core influences and the like were negligible. This is what you get on the album. A lot of guitars, a lot of well written riffs and melodies, a lot of chorus stuff to sing to and a lot of energy in most of the tracks. A reviewer can basically drop a wide array of names and even though not all would meet the requirements to similarity, some part of it would still stick. Rhapsody, Helloween, Blind Guardian and the like can be pointed to as references. It is their intensity and vibe that can be found on this release. A relentless display of energy and consistency in the execution and presentation of power metal. The music and the tracks on "The Elven Dream" stick with you, they grab you and do not let go. If you just listen to this album, if you just want to have this and nothing else, if this is what matters to you, then you should stop reading here and buy the album. Without any doubt, the quality of the album is great. Most reviewers would merely look at this and score it accordingly; 80+ ... without a doubt.

So, why do we have a 70 points score there?

A bothersome part is the "Ayreon" influence. Of course this is an unfair argument, but it still needs be brought forth. It is difficult to thoroughly follow the band in what they try to present. It is a bit of a conundrum what is going on in the tracks. By looking at the lyrics, it becomes obvious that a certain amount of roles appear over the course of the album, but it is difficult get it by listening to the music alone. In some parts, when a female voice appears, this shift is apparent, while generally it remains hidden. The problem is that the expressions of the lyrics are too similar and lacks a representation of the roles. It is difficult to distinguish them. The vocals are by no means bad, but do these really "show and tell" what is going on in the tracks? Furthermore, the female vocals in Julianna (Queen of the Dark Star) are a bit bland and the bell in The Kingdom of Light is quite unnecessary. Also, "Arrows of Cronon" reminds me a bit too much on Rhapsody's "Rage of the Winter".

If you just take the music and if this type of music is your thing, then you will find no difficulty in enjoying this album. Those who like to take a closer look at things, might raise an eyebrow over certain elements or aspects. Yet, these can be ignored easily and why not be nice for once. Makes it easier to bash the next album to an unbelievable degree.


Note 1:
when the review had been originally crafted, it had been the idea to reduce some points in the end, but since the album is only "just good", it would have been unfair to cut the score down even more. Therefore, those following lines had been an initial idea that had been scraped later on; those reference(s) above have not been redone ... for reason of laziness.
- 10 points, because only one of the persons in the background wears a mask
- 10 points, because those dead people that have died show no blood.

Note 2:
see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pines_of_Rome
The Pines of the Appian Way (I pini della Via Appia, tempo di marcia)

Note 3:
A glance over the lyrics reveals that Latin had been used in several tracks. As the reviewer is familiar with this language, but was somewhat confused over the words and grammar, it appeared appropriate to consult a forum in this regard. The discussions revealed what had been anticipated in the first place: some errors were found in them. While these flaws might not be apparent to everyone, it is appropriate to bring this up in a review. Leaving this carelessness aside, a further problem arises: how does it fit into the concept of the album, whose concept deals with Elfs, Vikings and tree hugging? Hells_unicorn had his reasons, but it is his part to explain it and not the writer of these lines. From an outside perspective and from someone without some insights into the reasons, the choice might be confusing to say the least.