Released: 2005, Napalm Records
Certainly one of those bands that have piqued my interest more than a few times when I’ve stopped to pick up CDs; Battlelore never cease to catch my eye on the CD racks yet when I come home, I end up picking up something else. It’s been like this since the band’s debut release “…Where Shadows Lie”. Their promo pictures and albums have a way of catching the eye and one’s imagination but for some reason I never bought an album, listened to a sample, or downloaded an mp3. Now on their third album, THIRD AGE OF THE SUN, Battlelore have finally been given a shot by myself and what I got was not what I expected at all.
Battlelore are one of those bands were you really can’t judge the music by the image they project. I always thought they were some kind of over the top power metal band. I mean, go check out some of their promo pictures and tell me what you would expect. Throw in that the band has lyrics based upon epic fantasy like The Lord of the Rings and the like and one can see that my assumptions were at least partially justified. So when I got THIRD AGE OF THE SUN in the mail I was quick to put the album in the stereo to find something I wasn’t expecting at all… Battlelore do not play power metal, I’m sure many out there would say it’s questionable whether they’re all that metal at all; Battlelore play music similar to many “Beauty and the Beast” styled gothy bands, not to mention a band like Evanescence wouldn’t be a wrong comparison. The only thing that sets the band apart from what many would call their contemporaries is a slight nod to medieval melodies, which can at times, almost make them sound close to a Viking metal band (sections of “Trollshaws” comes to mind, not to mention some of the keyboard sections scattered throughout). One thing that may be of contention for many, like myself, is there there is a strong nod to modern rock and even mallcore here and there in the guitar riffing and it really comes out in “Pallando – Forgotten Wizards I” and “Storm of the Blades” (which has riffs that remind me of modern In Flames).
Most songs revolve around the vocal melodies, usually there’s some rather minimal guitar riffing that really only helps create a base for the vocals and keyboards to play overtop. Not to mention much of the fantasy feel of the band’s sound is extremely reliant on their use of keyboards because if it was taken away the band would only have the lyrics as their grounding in the fantasy world. Kaisa Jouhki provides female vocals, which take up at least 80 percent of the vocals, if not more. Kaisa’s voice is very soft and fragile, and reminds me of ex-Theatre of Tragedy vocalist, Liv Kristine, in that regard. Her vocal melodies are, at times, surprisingly catchy and because of that I’m sure that at least a few people may find something to grab onto with the album though it’s unfortunate because given enough listens there’s nothing deeper. Tomi Mykkanen has a pretty standard shout/growl, nothing overly impressive or unique about it and the only legitmate reason I can see his voice being used is to create a dynamic but that dynamic doesn’t work if one half of the vocal duo isn’t even passable.
About THIRD AGE OF THE SUN, I can say that this is a unique listen with its mix of medieval melodies, beauty and the beast vocals and gothy, yet modern rock riffs; not to mention its slightly grandiose and overblown production. Though in some cases unique is good and in others unique should be put out of its misery.