Lothloryen - Of bards and madmen 3/5

Reviewed: 3-28-08


1. Welcome
2. The bards alliance
3. Moriality
4. Another tale
5. The dark flames (Of madness' queen)
6. Someday
7. Ruins of fantasy
8. Elfic
9. There and back again (bonus track)
10. Namarie (bonus track)

Formed between 2001 and 2002 and releasing a decent yet unspectacular demo around a year later, Lothloryen (curious spelling...) are among the surprisingly scant number of South American folk metal bands around today. Or, to be more exact, they are a band that is billed as folk metal, though the accuracy of this heading is somewhat questionable.

Their music is predominantly highly melodic power metal, with the biggest allusions to traditional music being the use of acoustic guitar that occasionally bridge the midsections of their songs, but more often than not are simply used to provide gentle intros and outros.

The slightly uneven recording quality and short running time suggest that 'Of bards and madmen' may have actually been recorded as another demo before being released by the band's label Force Majeure Records, and with the rough-around-the edges songwriting that slows this promising debut down it would come as no surprise.

The vocals of Leonaldo Oliveira are the clear focus of the songs, and while the melodies - reminiscent of older, less MTV-aimed Elvenking are strong and suitably bombastic, they are also rather samey, and contribute to an atmosphere of repetition that prevents many of the songs from becoming genuinely memorable.

The ever-present and, it must be said, unexpectedly intricate lead guitar playing is generally what drives the songs forward behind the vocals, and while it is refreshing to hear a modern power metal band so guitar driven, it is obvious that the rhythm parts are quite underdeveloped. Most of the riffs are epic metal-style slow gallops that would be perfect as part of a build up to something but the songs on 'Of bards and madmen' tend to chug along at the same pace for their duration, and the impressive guitar melodies alone are not enough without some sort of driving force to back them.

But despite there being a general lack of zeal throughout the CD, there are moments along the way that suggest Lothloryen have a brighter future ahead of them than merely being also-rans. The 2 ballads are fairly weak "Another tale" scarcely more than an interlude but the more metallic songs all have positive aspects that have the potential to be expanded upon.

The CD ends with a run of its strongest tracks; "Elfin" shows greater variety of tempo and justifies its relatively protracted track length more than most of the other songs, while the final 2 tracks - both ported directly from the preceding demo "Thousand ways to the same land" (the CD would clock in at only 35 minutes without them) - have been chosen with good reason, being among its strongest cuts. "Namarie", with its brooding atmosphere and gentle acoustic outro makes for a good closing track, while "There and back again" is an exuberant power metal effort that adds a little vim to the CD before it fades out.

The final product, though, is a CD of merely decent quality while Lothloryen have shown they are a talented bunch of lads, they need to trim the fat from their songs somewhat to step up into the big time. With a little streamlining, the music here could all be improved upon greatly, and the positive elements are enough to intimate better things are to come.




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