Elvenking - Heathenreel
And it has happened again. Once more Italy has, besides wine, pasta, tenors and pizza, produced a power metal band that really can be to reckon with in a near future. Elvenking plays epic fantasy power metal with strong folk-music influences and even medieval tunes in form of flutes and violins.
Any similarities with other bands are very hard to find because Elvenking have quite a unique sound and although they play in the same genre and come from the same country as Rhapsody they clearly stand aside from and can't be compared to them. In some cases they sound a bit like Skyclad, Blind Gurdian and perhaps even Helloween, but like I said before, still with great individuality.
The vocalist Damnargos sings with great conviction and added to this somewhat ordinary, but still very good singing, is on some songs some harsh death metal growling and a beautiful female voice. When it comes to intros, verses, choruses and solos the guitar benders Aydan and Jarpen do a great job and some songs have really outstanding intros and very emotional classic acoustic parts. The only thing that's lacking in this department is perhaps the presence of some cool harmony- solos but the overall very melodic interludes with sometimes violins make up for this.
My personal favourite songs on Heathenreel are particularly the great opener Pagan Purity and the following The Dweller of Rhymes. Others are White Willow with its fantastic intro and great chorus, the outstanding Oakenshield, the shorter and intense true power metal Hobs An' Feathers and the more epic Seasonspeech, which is a great album closer.
On the latter there's also several changes of atmosphere, from acoustic passages and beautiful female singing, to parts in the melodic death metal style, and it also features four different voices. The ballad Skywards is truly solemn and a comparison to Blind Guardian's The Bard Song- The Forest sometimes comes to mind. To be honest, there's not a single track I don't like on this album which after a few listening sessions continues to get better and better.
The overall production is good and Heathenreel has been mixed by Fredrik Nordström at Studio Fredman in Gothenburg, which is almost a guarantee for a great sound nowadays. I must say that Elvenking is a one of the new bands out there that really amazes me. I truly love Heathenreel and the fact that this is just the beginning, Elvenking already has the potential to be one of the leading bands in the fantasy inspired power metal department.
This might be even further enhanced by the fact that Martin Walkyier of previously mentioned Skyclad is in close collaboration with the band and their upcoming release. So stay tuned and give the youngsters of Elvenking a chance which is a very well deserved one. I sincerely hope that at least some of you out there will appreciate this album as much as I do!