Released: 2005, Black Lotus Records
When I was told the new Elwing album was up for grabs to review I was quick to claim it as I’d heard only good things about the Greece band’s debut, IMMORTAL STORIES, on Cult Metal Records though I unfortunately still don’t have the album as it’s rather hard to get a hold of. So, of course I was pretty excited to receive WAR in the mail to pop it in and get a nice surprise…
Elwing’s label, Black Lotus Records, calls the band “epic metal” and proclaims the band’s contemporaries to be Manowar, Doomsword, and early Running Wild. Now, while that is a relatively true statement Elwing has a fair amount in common with the heavy power metal scene, some riffs here and there make me think Iced Earth or Firewind. Sakis Koutsasis, the bands rhythm guitar player and vocalist has a strong and powerful voice where he can actually sing as well as perform some slightly rougher moments without coming off as silly or incompetent, unlike many vocalists who have trouble just doing one style.
The album starts off with “Marching to Glory”. After a short buildup the song starts off immediately with deviating lead and rhythm guitar, setting up the band’s quite melodic yet heavy approach. While the verse has a way of being quite catchy yet being quite heavy with the way it uitilizes short breaks in the riff to create an interesting marching rhythm. The use of lead guitar and solos though are what will make the band instantly viable in many power metal fans eyes. For “At the Gates” Sakis’ vocals branch out slightly, where as in “Marching to Glory” his voice was pretty rough, in “At the Gates” he attempts a fair amount more singing and excels at it. “At the Gates”, to me, has a much more American power metal vibe in its slight nods to power/thrash and maybe even Iced Earth in the bridge, not to discount the main riff which is heavy, driving, and pounding its way towards the chorus. In “I’ll Live Forever” the band fully live up to the epic label with distinctively epic melodies and a chorus that is instant sing-a-long material. “Stormlord” is the first of two tracks on the album not written by Elwing. Now, unfortunately I have no info on what band originally wrote this song, just a handful of names that amounted to very little in searches on Google and Metal Archives. While not knowing who originally performed the song irks me, “Stormlord” is a great song as performed by Elwing. Uptempo double bass with an over the top chorus, something so simple can work so well…
The instrumental track on the album, “War”, is great at building the song up with militiaristc snare drum work that drives the song initially, at least until the band kicks and the melodies and solos take over. The melodies only accent and help develop the epic, militaristic vibe of the song. “Blood on My Hands” is a ballad through and through. While it’s a ballad structure that has been done over and over again (simplified into jumping from acoustic to electric to try and accent the dynamic) it’s hard not to be drawn into the song. “Fly Away” is fast, up tempo and gets right to the point with little build up. The opening verse is based around open chords with simple backing drums but things quickly change with the drums picking up double bass along the way and the guitars chugging more and more before the band and the listener gets lost in the power metal glory. “Lost Humanity” is the second song on the album not written by the band, as well as the last song on the album. The song was originally written by bassist Tasos Karapapazoglou’s old band Nemesis. It becomes obvious that Nemesis and Elwing aren’t exactly distant cousins music-wise with the song being a heavy, rousing, power metal song that could easily be mistaken for a Elwing original.
Elwing do an extremely good job of mixing what are somewhat mainstream (at least for metal) ideas in the heavy power metal realm with the more epic side that many underground fans are rabid for. For many this will be the best of both worlds and for me, it’s one of the better albums I’ve had the opportunity to review.