Friday, November 7, 2008

Battlelore - Sword's Song (2003)

Now, where should I begin? First of all, Battlelore’s style is bloody difficult for me to define. It’s a curious mix of folk metal and power metal, with death influence. Sword’s Song is the band’s second studio album, and like all their music, deals with topics derived from Tolkien’s works. Now, this could’ve gone horribly wrong. Instead, with solid musicianship, songwriting and vocal performances from Patrik and Kaisa, the album didn’t just avoid being a horrible abortion, but is actually good. Very good.

The band presents their own take how tales from Middle Earth can be represented musically, and the result is vastly different from Howard Shore’s from the recent trilogy of movies. Yet, it doesn’t feel any less fitting. Different, certainly, but that’s not a bad thing. The lyrics tell various stories from Middle Earth, ranging from the War of Wrath, to a bunch of corsairs drinking it up on their break from pillaging the hapless villages of Gondor. The delivery also deserves a mention. The vast difference between Kaisa’s clean, harmonious singing is balanced with Patrik’s brutal growling. This duality is also used to pace the songs, creating clear segments, with Patrik’s slightly faster and brutal sections balanced with slower and more melodious breaks with Kaisa. This lets the listener to “catch their breath”. This works surprisingly well, letting people who dislike, or are unable to tolerate only death vocals to enjoy the music. For die-hard death fanatics the sound might be a bit too happy, and not brutal enough. If I had to pick one word to describe the songs overall, it'd probably be "catchy". I never got bored listening to this CD.

The ambience and mood created by the music seems dynamic and consistent throughout the album, keeping up the illusion of a story with varying parts being told. There is no stagnation at any point, and the band keeps the momentum until the end. The album is definitely Win, but if the subject matters are close to your heart, it might get to Epic Win. I certainly enjoyed the album immensely.

Verdict: Epic Win

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