Released: 2000, SPV Records
Reviewer: Michael De Los Muertos
Ha! I bet you clicked on this review because you’re a Lord of the Rings fan and you saw the name Rivendell, didn’t you? DIDN’T YOU? ADMIT IT! THAT’S THE ONLY REASON YOU CLICKED ON THIS REVIEW!!!!!!
Funny story about this CD. I went to Sweden recently to visit my girlfriend, and, now several months on from having my soul transformed by the magical power of the Lord of the Rings movie, I joked to people that I was “going to Rivendell to visit my people.” Rivendell is, of course, the capital of the elves. Naturally while browsing CD stores in “Rivendell” itself (Gothenburg, Sweden, if you’re looking for it on a map), finding a CD from a band with that name made it an immediate must-purchase. Hell, the thing could have been mallcore and I would have bought it! I was so excited about this CD that I didn’t listen to it for a while--I saved it until I got home and could examine it carefully, expecting an aural orgasm of glorious power metal. I figured that if the members of the band Rivendell had the same fixation I do (namely, the irrational delusion that they are elves from Middle Earth), this would be the geekiest kind of power metal imaginable, absolutely saturated with cheesy fantasy references, swords, sorcery, magical creatures, etc.
Imagine my shock when I put on this CD and, after a very power-metallish intro, the second track comes on and I hear…BLACK METAL! Yes, odd as it may seem, Rivendell is a black metal band. And actually they’re not a bad one. They’re not totally blistering cold Norwegian-1992 style black metal however, and there are a lot of folk elements in their stuff. You hear mandolins, recorders and acoustic guitars opening up several tracks, such as “Malbeth, the Seer’s Woods,” and there are even Blind Guardian-style choral sections. The main vocalist, however, approaches the material in classic black metal style, and in the speedy, catchy parts this sounds a lot like some of the more melodic black metal bands of the past five or six years. Imagine early Stormlord with less of a Bal-Sagoth influence, and you may get a conception of what Rivendell sound like.
THE ANCIENT GLORY is an interesting album, but not a ground-breaking one. The songs are well-done but aren’t ever really moving or compelling. I also find the guitarist (the names of the musicians are not given) somewhat uninspiring. Furthermore, the production value is very thin and flat. It’s possible to come away from this album feeling generally unfulfilled. The treatment of the Tolkien material--to the extent the lyrics are intelligible, which is virtually never--is generally a yawner. While this is in no respect a difficult or unenjoyable album to sit through, you won’t find it particularly amazing, even if you DO believe you’re an elf!
Thus, I’m not quite sure whether to recommend THE ANCIENT GLORY or not. I guess it depends on how big a Lord of the Rings fan you are, and how strong is your reaction of, “Wow, here’s a metal band named Rivendell!” Whether that makes it worth buying is totally up to you. And that’s coming from an elf himself.