Columns: Featured Artist

Featured Artist

 

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Elvenking - Featured Artist

Compiled & written in October 2001 By EvilG

Elvenking are easily one of my favorite NEW bands. The style of music played by the band is what sets them apart. Some call it "medieval metal" or "folk metal." It is clear to me that the band has it's roots in power metal, but they are not a mere carbon copy of other bands. The incorporated folk melodies is the main ingredient that differentiates them from the pack. You've probably head bands like Blind Guardian and Luca Turilli use folk elements but in my opinion Elvenking are more folk and less "classical" then either of these. Elvenking are not afraid to include some "blackend death metal" vocals. Hardly any power metal bands have done that while still keeping the clean vocals! The end result is a band which might take you a few listens to wrap your mind around, but after 5-6 listens, if you are open to this style of music, you will LOVE the band! At least, that's how it was for me!

Regarding the band's sound and style in the band's own words: "Elvenking set themselves the objective of finding a formula which can combine metal, folk music and extreme sounds in a unique mixture, with lyrics based on the pagan worship of nature and on the tradition of folkloristic fairy-tales."

The band's 2000 demo entitled To Oak Woods Bestowed caught my ear as something unique and fresh. That is no small feat considering I hear so many underground and unsigned bands for review purposes here at Metal-Rules.com. It was not until I heard their new full length album Heathenreel (2001) that the potential hinted at on their demo was fully realized.

Let's take a look at who these guys are with a brief background.

 

Background

Italy's Elvenking formed four years ago in October 1997. The two founding members were the band's guitarists Aydan and Jarpen. There were several line up changes in the formation period of the band. By March 1998, the two had found their vocalist, Damnagoras. Later the same year in September, Zender was recruited for the the drum position. The bass player at this time was a fellow known as Sargon. After playing live with this line-up for some time the band decided it was time to record a promo album to generate label interest in the band. It was at this time that their bass player, Sargon, left the bad for the usual cited reason "musical differences." The band had little success at finding a replacement bassist at this time so they decided to record their demo/promo album To Oak Woods Bestowed as a four piece with vocalist Damnagoras doing double duty for bass and vocals. The band huddled in the studio "New Sin Audio Design" at Loria, near Treviso (Italy) for nine days to record the demo. 

The CD was complete and five songs were ready to be heard. They include: TO OAK WOODS BESTOWED, WHITE WILLOW, BANQUET OF BARDS, OAKENSHIELD and UNDER THE TREE OF US'DUM. As was hoped this demo attracted label interest and the band picked what they thought was the best offer from the Germany label AFM records.

After the deal was signed the band began working on material for their first full length album. A new bass player was added the the line-up - Gorlan. He is a friend of Aydan and Jarpen and as such first helped the band out as a session player and was then asked to be a permanent member. The writing for the new album focused on an "extreme" evolution in the band's sound concentrating on the contrast between folk melodies (with the use of classical instruments such as flutes and fiddles) and aggressive riffs. The name of the band's debut album (released July 23rd 2001) is entitled Heathenreel. It contains 12 tracks which include: TO OAK WOODS BESTOWED, PAGAN PURITY, THE DWELLER OF RHYMES, THE REGALITY DANCE, WHITE WILLOW, SKYWARDS, OAKENSHIELD, HOBS AN' FEATHERS, CONJURING OF THE 14Th, A DREADFUL STRAIN and SEASONSPEECH. The Japanese version contains a cover of Skyclad's PENNY DREADFUL. The album was recorded in Italy at New Sin Audio Design by Luigi Stefanini and mixed in Sweden at Fredman Studios by renown metal producer, Fredrik Nordstrom. The cover artwork is also by a very well known artist in the metal community - Travis Smith.

Perhaps the crowning glory on the album is the track "Seasonspeech." It has FOUR vocal parts that blend together in a intricate but understandable way....very adventuresome! In the band's own words on this track they say:

My favourite song of the album, doubtless! It has a lot of different parts and feelings but it proves to be easy to listen at! It is an evolution of a song called "The honours". While I was writing the lyrics I had the idea to use four different voices, personifying the four seasons. The effect listening at the weave between Damna's vocals, Jarpen's horrid growls, and the magic voices of Mrs Pauline Tacey and Laura DeLuca is absolutely amazing! The acoustic break is great (I added the second part of it the last day before entering the studios!) and the choirs-finale simply gives me the shivers!!!
(Aydan)

I think, like all the others elves, that "Seasonspeech" is one of the best tracks of the album. I enjoyed writing every part I did for it and I loved to sing that splendid acoustic part in the middle. This track expresses feelings and emotions from each single note! Great!!
(Damna)

Yeah this is my favourite song too! It's very various, the 4 different voices mix themselves perfectly, the acoustic guitar and the flute make a very folkish tune, the out-of-mind singing of Damnagoras in the middle is absolute crazy! Great!
(Jarpen)

What the fuck!! This is also my favourite song!!! The folkish atmosphere here is totally tangible. The blast part in the middle is quite fantastic....before the marvellous final chorus I can't hear my bass...but it's ok!!!
(Gorlan)

 

 

News Current To October 2001

Since the release of Heathenreel the band has been getting excellent reviews!! In Italy, the album is reportedly a "big success" with Italian magazines giving excellent reviews like Flash with 95/100, Metal Hammer (5/6), www.metallus.it (9/10), www.metalitalia.com (5/5), www.metal.it (8/10), www.babylonmagazine.net (9/10), www.orionmagazine.it (5/6). The rave reviews are not only coming from Italy where the CD is selling very well, but also in the other European countries (Greece, Spain, Sweden, Holland, etc.) and even in the United States and Canada, where the CD can be ordered through Metal-Rules.com (rated 5/5).

More news on the band and more background information is in our interview with Elvenking's guitarist, Aydan. This will be online and linked form here in a few days! 

Until then, check the band out and ENJOY!!!


If you are interested you can order HEATHENREEL here. Be sure to check out the band's fine website at www.elvenking.net.

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