Elvenking - Wyrd
AFM Records
Epic Power / Folk / Celtic Metal
11 songs (57'40)
Release year: 2004
Elvenking, AFM Records
Reviewed by Marty
Album of the month
Italy's Elvenking is back with their third album, Wyrd and the first since 2001's Heathenreel. Sounding very different from most other Italian power metal bands, Elvenking chose a direction that incorporated folk and celtic flavors into their music and avoided the stereotypical big epic orchestrated sound of many of their fellow countrymen (Rhapsody, Skylark etc.). This album continues in the same vein as Heathenreel but shows a much larger degree of focus and intensity and is sure to draw much more attention to the band. This album features song collaborations with Martin Walkyier (The Clan, ex-Skyclad) whose influence is felt throughout this album. Wyrd also marks the debut of their new vocalist, Kleid, who replaces Damnagoras (who had to bow out due to health and voice problems), and Elyghen, the band's new keyboard player. The early limited edition contains 2 bonus tracks and a multimedia section as well.

With Wyrd, Elvenking continues with their "busy" mix of traditional speedy power metal blending celtic melodies and folk elements into their song arrangements. New vocalist Kleid has an amazing and strong voice and is a great asset to the band. I feel that with him at the helm, they are destined for greatness. Mixed in with his powerful and soaring voice are sporadic usages of death style male vocals for backing effects and angelic female vocals that grace several tracks and create an air of beauty and wonder to their wonderfully majestic sound. I notice more of a Rhapsody influence with this album over Heathenreel with the big epic choruses on a few tracks and the operatic style and emotion really brings classic Queen to mind. I've been playing this album for about a week now and I simply can't get enough of it. Every listen brings a new appreciation to aspects that simply eluded me on early listens. The blend of power metal and traditonal celtic music has rarely been done to this level of (almost) perfection. Violins, flutes, traditional celtic drums and orchestration grace most tracks as well as some great powerful and melodic power metal. There's even a nod to 70's rock giants Kansas with the track Jigsaw Puzzle with it's speedy blend of guitar and violin. The chunky heaviness and very heavy celtic feel even has Blind Guardian-like qualities. Although there are some typical speedy power metal sections to some of the songs, these are short-lived with the overall arrangements to most songs being quite complex with many changes in mood and tempo.

Although there are really no weak tracks, highlights include Moonchariot, an absolute killer of a track! Beginning with acoustic guitars, this one kicks in with a pounding heavy beat and solid power metal riffing. The celtic influences are in full force here and it has a big intense Blind Guardian like sound. Solid thematic riff passages lead into some excellent speedy melodic leads. The structure of the vocals with it's verse/pre-chorus/chorus arrangement really works well and the chanting epic chorus tops off an amazing track. The album finishes with three excellent songs with The Fiery Stride (a bonus track) and Midnight Circus kicking into gear to crank out out some great epic and powerful power metal. Both tracks features great emotional vocals and very solid and catchy choruses. The final track, A Poem For Firmament is a 12 minute epic that rivals anything I've heard in many years as far as a classic epic power metal opus. This is their ...And Then There was Silence. Beginning with some classical guitar for the intro, Kleid provides an amazing vocal performance in it's emotion and power and the light use of orchestration adds great atmosphere. Pounding heavy and speedy sections alternate throughout and there's some great ripping and melodic lead guitar. The song mellows mid-track with a hauntingly beautiful female vocal over piano accompaniment and then gets explosively heavy again with galloping rhythms and a mix of clean and dirty male vocals. The track ends with a heavy version of the opening vocal melody line and at the fadeout, it leaves you wanting more.

The quality of the 2 bonus tracks on this album makes this limited edition well worth picking up. In fact, they're mixed into the track list and not stuck at the end like most are. This method of inserting them amongst the regular album tracks results in them being a very integral part of the overall flow of the album and in fact, I don't think it would be as good without them. I liked Heathenreel somewhat because of it's different style of power metal but I wasn't really stuck on the vocals. With their new vocalist, Kleid, I think this band has matured and focused their efforts into becoming a very powerful and important band. Sure other bands like Cruachan and Skyclad have done this sort of music before, but it's the power metal sound that Elvenking uses along with the celtic influences that does it for me. An outstanding effort and certainly the band's best yet. This is one of the highlights so far this year for me....BRAVO!!!

Killing Songs :
Moonchariot, A Fiery Stride, Midnight Circus and A Poem For The Firmament
Marty quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Elvenking that we have reviewed:
Elvenking - Secrets of the Magick Grimoire reviewed by Andy and quoted 81 / 100
Elvenking - The Pagan Manifesto reviewed by Joel and quoted 85 / 100
Elvenking - Era reviewed by Olivier and quoted 80 / 100
Elvenking - Red Silent Tides reviewed by Khelek and quoted 69 / 100
Elvenking - Two Tragedy Poets (... and a Caravan of Weird Figures) reviewed by Alex and quoted 80 / 100
To see all 9 reviews click here
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