Elvenking - Two tragedy poets 3.5/5

Reviewed: 12-19-08





Tracklist:

1. The caravan of weird figures
2. Another awful hobs tale
3. From blood to stone
4. Ask a silly question
5. She lives at dawn
6. The winter wake (acoustic version)
7. Heaven is a place on Earth
8. My own spider's web
9. Not my final song
10. The blackest of my hearts
11. The wanderer (acoustic version)
12. Miss Conception


Elvenking dominate as true lords of the power/folk metal movement. This is their 5th escapade into the web of wyrd, and it figures that the Skyclad influences are in tow. This release is more polished and poetic than the slice of 'The scythe', which left a dull indentation. There is an authentic, acoustic, classical, and pure pagan vibe which permeates all throughout.

The CD begins with a strong weird ushering jig ("The caravan of weird figures"), which instantly gets the blood pumping for a dandy regality dance around the fire. This is followed by "Another awful hobs tale", which reverts to the essence of the Heathenreel's "Hobs an' feathers". This song embodies all that is wholly, common, weal, and mirthful with Elvenking. This heretofore, clever gambol leaves the heart pulsating with a chance encounter with the unknown, and a blessed sense of awareness. The next few songs are a bit more tepid, silly, and strident; but, they still maintain the unplugged intent, following through with their natural connotation.

The reworking of "The winter wake" in an acoustic fashion, is very majestic, and honest; but, I do miss the killer silverskull screech of Schmier, who served as a guest on the version found on 'The winter wake'. "Not my final song" is clever and very enjoyable. This is probably my favourite ambulation narration found on this caravan. I love the rant at the coda of its edification. I also cherish "Miss Conception", which by no means is the vintage whine of a "Little Miss Take", but, nevertheless, remains witty and embittered. "My own spiderweb" ensnares with its phlebotomizing intent, and appeals like a primal and more unctuous ramification of "Swallowtail". "The blackest of my hearts" carries on the feel of 'The scythe', reminding me of "The divided heart". The tympani ring and bass drum echo at the end of the song serves as a penultimate conclusion.

Surprisingly, the best song on the whole tragic entourage, for me, is the brilliant cover of Belinda Carlisle's "Heaven is a place on earth". I've always enjoyed this 80s uplifting melody, which wavers with a weaving beat, and makes you want to go, go, go. Elvenking truly exonerate this song in the metal tradition. They almost make it their own, especially since Damnagoras does not attempt to sound like Belinda at all.

Overall, this is definitely better than 'The scythe', which I found to be too rushed, and not as consistent. It is not as stellar or fimbul as 'The winter wake', or even the percipient and wonderful 'Wyrd'. It is definitely not as fast as 'Heathenreel'. Actually, there are no harsh or gruff vocal overtones present at all. This is a more enduring, mature side of Italy's Elvenking. They have invented their own way of the wyrd; their own even path of fortitude and frivolity.

As more and more wistful copycats ascend as pretenders to the throne, it is reassuring to me that bands like Elvenking, Skiltron, Spellblast, Cruachan, and their ilk can continue what Martin Walkyier and his band of wayward sons initiated.



MICHAEL




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