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Battlelore
Third Age of the Sun
September 2005
Released: 2005, Napalm Records
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Waspman

Finnish fantasy warriors Battlelore have returned with their third full-length volley of Tolkien-worshipping war metal. After the success (and subsequent hype) of last year’s THE JOURNEY DVD and 2003’s SWORD’S SONG, Battlelore seem primed for continued conquests.

THIRD AGE OF THE SUN is my first contact with the band, though it was impossible to escape hearing of the band in 2004. On my first listen to the disc, I was unimpressed – Battlelore simply take the basic foundation of gothic metal (old Theatre of Tragedy and the like) and add lyrics about Middle Earth and replace the romantic aspects of the music with a more folksy war-based focus. Subsequent listens were more of the same, but also revealed a sinister catchy undertone to the whole theatrical schmoz. Seriously, songs like “Trollshaws” are catchy despite their heaviness, while a song like “Valier – Queens of the Elves” with its infectious melodies (brought to life by the great vocals of Kaisa Jouhki) sticks in your head for days.

While some songs here are clunkers (like “Touch of Green and Gold” which could have been on Liv Kristine’s solo album), the majority is perfectly good gothic metal. The band ably mixes the brutality with the silky melodic side of folk metal; “Elves of Luva” is a great example of how good acoustic folk metal can be.

All told, though Battlelore is not really doing anything that wasn’t done in 1998 by goth-metal pioneers, they have what many successful bands have – a good gimmick. Seriously, how bands do you know of that dress of like elves, orcs, and warriors on stage? It’s not all image though, ‘cause Battlelore does have the music to back it up. THIRD AGE OF THE SUN is a good find, exposing the softer side of Middle Earth’s war-torn landscape.
Track Listing

1) Usvainen Rhun
2) Storm of the Blades
3) Ghan of the Woods
4) Gwaith-I-Mirdain
5) Trollshaws
6) Elves of Luva
7) Valier – Queens of the Valar
8) Thousand Caves
9) Cloaked In Her Unlight
10) Of Orcs and Elves
11) Touch of Green and Gold
12) Pallando – Forgotten Wizards 1
13) Gollum’s Cry

Lineup

Kaisa Jouhki: Vocals
Tomi Mykkanen: Vocals
Jussi Rautio: Guitars
Jyri Vahvanen: Guitars
Timo Honkanen: Bass
Henri Vahvanen: Drums
Maria: Keyboards


Next review: » Battlelore - Third Age of the Sun
Previous review: » Battlelore - Sword’s Song

Battlelore
Third Age of the Sun
February 2006
Released: 2005, Napalm Records
Rating: 1.0/5
Reviewer: Madman

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.
Track Listing

1. Usvainen Rhûn
2. Storm of the Blades
3. Ghân of the Woods
4. Gwaith-i-Mírdain
5. Trollshaws
6. Elves of Lúva
7. Valier - Queens of the Valar
8. Thousand Caves
9. Cloaked In Her Unlight
10. Of Orcs and Elves
11. Touch of Green and Gold
12. Pallando - Forgotten Wizards I
13. Gollum's Cry

Lineup

Tomi Mykkänen - Vocals
Kaisa Jouhki - Vocals
Jyri Vahvanen - Guitar
Jussi Rautio - Guitar
Timo Honkanen - Bass
Henri Vahvanen - Drums
Maria - Synth


Next review: » Battlelore - Where the Shadows Lie
Previous review: » Battlelore - Sword’s Song





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