BATTLELORE: "Third Age of the Sun" battlelore
Recorded at SoundSuite Studio in Marseille, France with producer Terje Refsnes (Tristania, Morgul, Turisas).
Mastering duties were handled at Finnvox studios in Helsinki.
European release date 25.07.2006
preview - review by Marco "Norman Knight" Signore____
learned about Battlelore two years ago, by buying their second album,
"Sword’s Song". The first thing I had at that time was
“yet another power metal band that heavily draws on Tolkien’s
works”. However, the album was not bad, with some very interesting
songs (above all “Horns of Gondor”), although I felt too much
computer programming in the mix.
a successful DVD live, Battlelore release this third album, called
“Third Age of the Sun”, and again they focus on Tolkien. However,
the line-up of the band is changed, especially with the loss of the
singer / swordsman Patrik
Mennander, which I think was quite a charismatic figure in the band. The
new vocalist Tomi Mykkänen,
however, is not a bad substitute, while the always charming and lovely Kaisa
Jouhki in this album receives far more space than before. And I’m
personally happy with this!
The band is completed by Jussi Rautio on the lead guitars,
Jyri Vahvanen on guitars, Timo
Honkanen on bass, the mysterious Maria on keyboards and flute, and Henri
Vahvanen on drums.
The album opens, as it is nowadays
consuetude in the power metal, with an intro (titled “Usvainen
Rhun”), this time recited by the beautiful Kaisa. And the
first true song of the album, “Storm of the Blades”
while aggressively interpreted by the new grawling male vocalist Tomi Mykkänen,
is a bit softer than I expected (inevitable is the confrontation with
the opener of the previous album, “Sons of Riddermark”); however the
song in itself will appease the fans of this genre, with the sharp
contrast of the male growling voice and the female clean one.
Things however change with “Ghan of the Woods”
(one of the characters I less liked in the Lord of the Rings book), in
which the atmospheres of the forests around the territory of Gondor are
well rendered with a nice choice of synth sounds, and the sweet voice of
Kaisa Jouhki becomes the leading one, later in the song creating a
rhythmic carpet on which the growl of Mykkänen proclaims the glory of
the Druidan chief.
opens with flute and acoustic guitar on a smooth rhythmic pattern that
grows with the addition of electric guitar and bass, as the female voice
tells the tale of the greatest artists and craftsmen in all the lands of
Arda. The presence of the flute in almost the
whole song is a welcomed addition to a graceful song (as graceful as a
power metal song may be…).
in my opinion the best song of the album is the following “Trollshaws”.
Depicting one of the most dangerous areas of the Western Middle Earth,
the song is very well conceived and played, with the growl voice of Mykkänen
raging on like the wind among the skeletal trees, as the Trolls themselves
become alive in the strange and (I suspect) processed voice you can hear
along with a martial flute. Here the female vocals play only a marginal
part – maybe even too soft, as the guitars
create the true fabric of the song, along with a 3-notes riff of bass
keyboards. In all respects this is the best conceived and played
(and the most involving as well) song of the album. My compliments to
the piano arrangements of Maria!
for those diehard fans of the soft acoustic ballads, the delicious Kaisa
expresses all her grace in the next song, “Elves of Luva”, a
slow song created on acoustic atmospheres. If you like this kind of stuff,
you will certainly love this song – honestly a bit unexpected from an
“aggressive” band as Battlelore.
return to a more cadenced and heavy theme with “Valier
– Queen of the Valar”, as the lyrics move towards the
religious aspect of Tolkien myths, and the delicate piano of Maria
counterpoints the heavy riffs of Rautio and Vahvanen. Again the main
vocals are left to Kaisa, while the bass seems hidden among the
distortion of the guitars, and the drums don’t rely on the
overexhausted double drums, instead weaving a simple yet efficacious
tremolo guitar arpeggio introduces the “Thousand Caves” (Menegroth,
if my memory is not failing me…), with a sharp and nervous distorted
guitar and a string riff of keyboards that frame the redoubled voice of
Kaisa. A nice song that once again manages to rely in music the
atmospheres of one of the most famous places described in the
Professor’s books. In this song my attention has been almost
completely seized by the very nice keyboard arrangements, however.
Henri Vahvanen rolls to introduce us to
“Cloaked in her unlight”, a hard
song which I suspect may refer to the only vampire (a female…) in the
Silmarillion (but I may truly be wrong, as I don’t have the lyrics at
the moment of writing this review). Almost
haunting, this song, is one of the few in which the bass guitar of Timo
Honkanen may be at last heard!
“Of Orcs and
Elves” has a few surprises in for us, among which a
splendid slow central section in deep contrast with the rest of the
song, which is instead built on dark and heavy distortions and a
A carousel of piano and guitars introduces the next song,
“Touch of Green and Gold”, which
assumes the tones of a ballad but with heavy riffs and a relentless drum
pattern, where the growling vocals of Mykkänen
in his little but meaningful inserts has true justification.
we have next, “Pallando – Forgotten Wizard
I” is a song dedicated to one of the most neglected
characters of Tolkien’s works, one of the Blue Istari, called Pallando
– one of the two lost wizards, disappeared in the East and according
to some unofficial interpretation tainted by the Evil of Mordor (it must
be noted that in the digipack limited release there is a bonus track
called Alatar – Forgotten Wizard II”). This
song is in my opinion the second best of the album, with very good synth
carpets, nice duels of vocals, and good guitars and bass with a strong
background of drums.
album closes with “Gollum’s Cry”, a sad song recited with a
screeching desperate voice that should be the one from the unfortunate
hobbit which will end the unlife of Sauron. If you like it…
personal considerations, the album is well played but it seems that
Battlelore don’t trust the yet good vocal power of Mykkänen, leaving
most of the vocal tracks to the exceptionally charming (I’ll never
said it enough!) Kaisa
Jouhki. This represents a sort of deep difference in style from the
previous works of the band – and quite a good thing for the
many fans of this beautiful female singer. But the
songs lose in power what they gain in grace.
distortion of the guitars is often not very clean, and as a result the
bass working is mostly obliterated. However, the work in all is quite
good and represents a nice sing that Battlelore don’t seem to
sleep on the laurels of their recent success. Again my compliments must
go, however, to the excellent drums and keyboards arrangements, which
may make the difference in an inflationed genre such as the power metal.
I strongly suggest
this album for both the fans of Tolkien and of power metal, and to the
fans of Battlelore outside there I say that you can blindly trust in
this album, it won’t disappoint you.
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