Released: 2001, Hemisphere Entertainment
Hailing from a snow dragon’s lair somewhere in the heart of Sweden is the band Isengard. The band is comprised of Linus Melchiorsen (vocals), Ronnie Andréson (guitars), Janne “goat” Tillman (bass), and Ulf Tillman (drums). Although the sound quality of this recording is not quite as impressive as say Rhapsody or Kamelot, it is still very good for a lesser-known band on an unknown label. For the amount of money they most likely had to record this, they did a great job and they even have a load of guest musicians such as violinists, choirs, tenors, altos and sopranos. If that kind of influence is something you don’t like in your metal then this might not be your band. But if you’re like me and you love bands that incorporate these sounds then stay tuned!
CROWNLESS MAJESTY opens with the attention-grabbing track “Dreamland.” This one is a very much a typical power metal song with soaring vocals, double kicks, etc…you know the ingredients! Edguy and Helloween fans…this one is for you. Second on the album is the track “Coming Home” where the mold is broken. Isengard prove they are not another second rate Helloween clone. This song is slower and brings to mind the sounds of the band Memory Garden. “Legends” has a very bizarre intro with some kind of wind instrument (Most likely a bassoon? Fuck, what do I know, I’m a metalhead not a conductor!), rustling leaves and a cawing crow…this is followed by horses galloping and battle sounds. If you own a cat, crank the hell out of the intro and the sound of the crow will freak the cat out!! That’s what happened for me!! The cat’s eyes widened and he looked all over the place for the crow hahaha….The proceeding song is “The Winds of War” which is one of the weaker songs on here. The mix sounds a bit weak on this one. The string section in the middle with the choir is however very cool. “Stormcrow” is the song on which vocalist Linus Melchiorsen gets to shine. It’s an orchestration track with vocals and no guitars/bass. The vocals are not as polished as say Fabio Lione in their reach, but damn he is damn good! “Shadows of Light” has the bizarre sounding “bassoon” at the intro….so weird sounding I can’t get it our of my head! The song is a semi-ballad with the verses slow with clean guitar. The chorus is much heavier. This is the typical “power ballad” formula of course, but the music here is not at all like the bands that became huge in the 80’s because of it. “The Crownless Majesty” has an excellent choir on the intro….it should of went on longer! This song sounds a tad more on the progressive side. The main riff here made me think of Lion’s Share. Again, clean guitar is mixed in on the verses. The tempo changes and things pick up quite a lot. Some of the riffing here is borderline thrash and reminded me of the more obscure and sadly defunct power/thrash band Harrow. This song also has a very cool solo. You can hear that it was at least doubled. Following the guitar solo is somewhat of a bass solo!! I can hear why they made this track the album’s title track. “Armour of Gods” again has clean guitars mixed in with the heavy riffing making this somewhat of a staple of this band’s sound on many tracks here. My only minor complaint about the album is that in a few places the orchestration is louder then the guitars. I don’t mind the orchestration taking the “front seat” sometimes, but in a couple places, like choruses, I thought the guitar was a bit too low in the mix. I would or turned it up if I had a say!
CROWNLESS MAJESTY is Isengard’s fourth album!!! Unfortunately it’s the first time I have heard of them and chances are this is the first mention many of you have heard of them as well. Since the release of the band’s three previous albums they obtained a new singer - Linus Melchiorsen. The other Isengard albums are FEEL NO FEAR (1994), UNDER THE DRAGONS WING (1995), ENTER THE DRAGON EMPIRE (1996). Their new album, CROWNLESS MAJESTY was released this year – 2001. I wonder what the five-year wait was? Seems kinda damaging for a band that is not yet well known!! Perhaps they were off slaying dragons so they could have more battle tales to sing about?? Ha! The new album cover has dragons on it as well! Wow, these guys love their dragons…well I can’t say much because I think they are way cool looking as well hahaha! For more information on the band check out their official site at http://w1.131.telia.com/~u13109966/