Monday, April 15, 2024
Banner Top

Label: AFM Records

Date: April 28th, 2023

There’s this one thing I always admired about these Italians. You could always rely on them. Time and time again, you knew exactly what to expect of them. Not just in terms of genre selection, but the quality they delivered was always a constant. Elvenking never achieved a stellar record. Unlike their more recognized countrymen, they were never superstars. Never have they reached a monumental status. In fact, it might just seem they got to the Italian power metal party a bit late. By the early 21st century that flame was exhausted and the appearance of yet another band in the similar vein and from the same country was a bit too much.

On the flip side of the coin and also unlike all of their more famous countrymen, Elvenking never did a bad record. Neither did they allow themselves a mediocre record. All their albums were of substantial quality. However lacking in this or that aspect, they always allowed for the listener to enjoy with all his/her heart throughout.

I’ve entered Elvenking’s domain simply because the cover of “Wyrd” was so brilliant that I couldn’t resist it in my local music store. And again, this is another constant in their career that now spans over a quarter of a century.

Now, frankly speaking, I’ve missed the previous chapter. Unfortunately so, because this album is its sequel. The second part of the trilogy. Hence, I will not delve on the concept as I’m not familiar with it to the full extent. It would be unfair, though I promise to explore it deeper and I invite my dear readers to do so as well, especially since the record is yet another example of Elvenking’s inability to swing and miss.

First of all, I must agree with official press release. This is Elvenking’s darkest album so far. Still, don’t be afraid, they’ve not gone astray. There are more than enough melodies in here, and fairly cheerful ones. Whether you’re seeking those high vocal flows that are so specific for Italian representatives of power metal or shining keyboard’s passages that color the whole thing. With expected majestic orchestrations and layers of choir chants you get all the ingredients for traditional power metal.

But Elvenking’s reputation doesn’t just stem from publishing technically correct cliché power metal albums. After all, they’ve included additional elements to their creations from day one. Folklore, pagan influences were the first that reared their heads, almost instantaneously. These are still there, so that the passages on violin, viola or Celtic harp are in abundance. However, the Celts are not the only characters to appear on “Rapture”. Pieces present in “Covenant” or “Incantations” carry more or less obvious oriental, Middle-Eastern traces explained more profoundly in the lyrics.

Leaving aside the folklore, the record dives into metal’s extremes more often than before. Never striving away from melodic features, melodic death metal takes a prominent position on the album with more than one descent into almost symphonic doom or gothic (love) metal region. That’s where “Rapture” picks up the menacing tones I’ve mentioned above. Plus, the verses used are often aimed at the darker sides of human existence.

By the way, from my perspective the lyrics are quite untied from one another. Mind you, this is not a definitive position, since I’ve already said that I’m unfamiliar with the concept.

Whatever the case may be, my primary concern is at the compositional side of Elvenking and that’s where they seem to thrive. Of course, it is an absolute must, in any direction you take with power metal, to have catchiness on top of your priority list. Doesn’t matter how you achieve it, without it you shouldn’t even consider releasing the material. In this regard, the sextet here has a wide variety of weapons handy. The most obvious, naturally, the chorus climaxes like the ones in “Bride of Night” or “The Cursed Cavalier”. “Herdchant” has the lead melody behind the voice in the chorus. “To the North” has that rhythmical work built for jumping in mass of a giant crowd at a summer metal festival. Also, those Egyptian suites are very memorable. Not to mention the Celtic ones, but those have become a trademark for Elvenking decades ago.

And yes, Italians are still at the same position as they ever were. There really is no weak point on “Rapture”. There’s also none that will cement them among the ultimate legends. Yet the tale remains of a man that would not be emperor, but the crown of Elvenking lays deservedly on his head.


Banner Content
Tags: , , , ,