Elvenking - The Scythe
Candlelight Records
Power Metal with Folk / Celtic Influences
10 songs (55'40)
Release year: 2007
Elvenking, Candlelight Records
Reviewed by Marty
Most fans of Italy's Elvenking tend to agree that the band's finest hour so far has been their debut album Heathenreel released back in 2001. A close second would be their last album The Winter Wake, which saw the return of original vocalist Damnogoras after a brief absence during the recording and tour for the second album Wyrd. With The Winter Wake, we saw a continued progression of the celtic/folk flavored Elvenking sound but a decidedly heavier feel was creeping into their music. The band's latest album, The Scythe sees quite a big change in sound; leaning more towards a heavy power metal sound with an In Flames style modern aggressive approach. The folk/celtic influences are still there but seem to be an afterthought and don't really play a large part in their overall sound anymore; the one thing that made them so unique and interesting in an endless sea of power metal bands.

The title track, The Scythe sets the tone with it's huge older Iced Earth thick muscular guitar tone. Pulverizing riffs and an ultra chunky heavy sound combined with a more aggressive vocal style delivers something that's quite new to the Elvenking sound. The melody is still there but the "folk" elements consist solely of some violin parts being mixed in the the guitar riffs and really adding nothing as far as atmosphere and an overall celtic "feel" like previous work. Poison Tears covers a lot of ground and combines speedy, heavy power metal with an Angel Dust-like heaviness and uses a mix of clean and harsh vocals as well as a mix of heavy and acoustic guitar/violin segments. More of a true celtic feel can be seen with the track A Riddle Of Stars. With a more prominent role for the violin in the mix, the richer melodies and choruses are more in line with the classic Elvenking sound. The Divided Heart takes a more simplistic approach with it's mid tempo style by using celtic-flavored melodies, a catchy and strong chorus section and an overall more focussed and straight forward style.

The guitar tone is huge for this album and production-wise, the band has never sounded better. The ultra-meaty guitar tone is really prominent throughout the album but diminishes the overall dynamics and atmosphere that other Elevenking albums had so much of. I find it somewhat paradoxical in using violins and other celtic instruments with such a heavy guitar tone. It just doesn't fit the Elevenking sound. That and the fact that many of the tracks on this album are very disjointed in the their arrangements. A prime example is the track Romance And Wrath which bounces back and forth between speedy power metal, chunky heavy power metal, acoustic interludes as well as more aggressive Anthrax style thrash metal with the Scott Ian brand of shouting backup vocals. Big gang choruses, aggressive and harsh vocals have always played a role in Elvenking's music but this time, they are in the forefront with the melodic and strangely appealing celtic influenced power metal taking a back seat here.

I find myself really liking the ultra-heavy guitar tone and overall sound of this album but aside from a few really solid songs, most songs are nothing but riff-fests with very little in the way of solid melodies or hooks and the great memorable choruses of old only make a few brief appearances. The very things that used to make this band so appealing are missing, as this band seems bent on throwing themselves into the sea of power metal bands and hoping to survive. Tossing in some violin once in a while and using the odd celtic-flavored melody with a chorus or guitar riff doesn't really give this band the edge over other power metal bands like it used to. The true celtic/folk feel of Heathenreel is now all but a distant memory. It's time for this band to really focus and decide just how they want to proceed. They have yet to find a consistent style and stick with it. If this album was coming from a new band, I might have different thoughts about it. However, for a band like Elvenking that has four albums to their name and helped introduce such a unique and genre defining style of celtic/folk metal, this album brings a sense a disappointment for me.
Killing Songs :
The Scythe, Poison Tears and The Divided Heart
Marty quoted 69 / 100
Other albums by Elvenking that we have reviewed:
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
Elvenking - The Winter Wake reviewed by Marty and quoted 86 / 100
To see all 8 reviews click here
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