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Battlelore
Where the Shadows Lie
May 2002
Released: 2002, Napalm Records
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Rick

Epic fantasy metal with a twist. I expected to hear a powermetal band when I popped on the CD. However, Napalm Records is not known for its powermetal bands. My suspicions were well founded. Battlelore is not powermetal but exactly what they say they are: epic/gothic/fantasy metal. The band was formed in 1996 by Jyri Vahvanen. WHERE THE SHADOWS LIE is Battlelore’s debut release and was recorded in the Fall of 2001. The lineup on the disc is: Vahvanen-- guitars; Miika Kokkola--bass; Henri Vahvanen--drums; Tommi Havo--guitar and raging vocals; Patrik Mennander--clear male vocals, Maria--keyboards; and Kaisa Jouhki--female vocals.



As I was saying above, even before I had played the disc I had come to the conclusion that Battlelore were a powermetal group. The accompanying promotional information came complete with a small black and white promotional picture of the band decked out in their very best battle garb straight out of the tales of Middle Earth. Merry and Pippen would be proud. There are also quite a few songs that revolve around Middle Earth and Tolkien’s writings. Titles like “The Grey Wizard”, “Fangorn”, “Khazad-dum pt.1(Ages of Mithril)” and “Raging Goblin.” The CD opens with “Swordmaster” and is followed by “The Grey Wizard.” This is an excellent track and really sets the tone of what Battlelore are all about. Epic music with intense vocals mixed with clean female singing wound up in the fantastic world of Tolkien. The disc closes with the 8 minute track “Ride With The Dragons.”



One song that really didn’t do a lot for me on this disc was “Shadowgate.” Too much of a techno influence for my tastes. However, on the whole, this is a great CD. Epic, but not in the vein of epic powermetal. Battlelore have an epic quality all their own. This CD runs the gamut from crunching tracks like “Raging Goblin” to more atmospheric songs a la “The Green Maid.” If you like your metal epic with a healthy dose of fantasy but also with lots of crunch then check out Battlelore.
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Next review: » Battlelore - Where the Shadows Lie
Previous review: » Battlelore - Third Age of the Sun

Battlelore
Where the Shadows Lie
May 2002
Released: 2002, Napalm
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: JP

An absolutely classic case of never judge a book/CD by it’s cover. I threw this puppy in expecting full-on pure melodic power metal a la Rhapsody. All the signs were there. The cover adorned with a mighty warrior with blond hair wielding his mighty sword about to do battle with a monstrous black giant and his monstrous hammer of war. The song titles were a dead giveaway, or so I thought! Songs like had me thinking, “I know what this is all about!” How wrong I was. Imagine my surprise when what came rolling out of my speakers was not squeaky clean, melodic, power metal but a delightful mixture of many styles of metal. Once the initial shock wore off from my pre-conceived notions I was treated to a fantastic album of depth and substance.



Battlelore, musically speaking, cover a lot of ground but without being schizophrenic. They dabble in death, doom, power and even rare touches of black metal on this disc. Over all to me this disc, if you must compare, reminded me of older Crematory. There is a nice combination of several vocals styles, clean, gruff, harsh and female. There are actually seven people in this band, the “extra” two members being a male vocalist and a female vocalist. They all dress in medieval garb and have a nice array of weaponry, and this imagery compliments the music and adds visual appeal.



The production is thick, warm and full, and a nice compliment to music of this nature. The caliber of the musical performance is very good, but not utterly stellar. I don’t think this is the kind of band where flashy, individual showmanship rules the day, but where everyone is competent and solid. There are some nice solos but they avoid all-out shred fests.



Usually I don’t bother to quote promo literature from the label about their own band, but in rare cases like this one they are pretty dead on. For example, “Playing epic fantasy metal they incorporate elements of Gothic, black metal and Pagan music into their sound.” That really does nicely describe the style of Battlelore. It is interesting to see that Napalm picked these guys up!



Where Shadows Lie is a solid entry into a sub-genre of metal that some argue is becoming crowded and derivative. Although not stunning, this is a good strong debut--I will enjoy this disc for years to come. It has depth and staying power and I’m already looking forward to number two!
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Next review: » BattleMage - A Dragon’s Tale (E.P.)
Previous review: » Battlelore - Third Age of the Sun





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