Released: 2004, Scarlet Records/Sound Pollution
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall
One glance at the title is all that’s needed to know what this album is all about. TALES FROM MIDGARD (TFM) is a new metal opera inspired by J.R.R Tolkien’s seminal work The Lord Of The Rings. If I understand correctly, this album will be the first in a trilogy which will follow the books. I thought everybody was tired of the hype around the movies, but apparently not.
The Ring is a Swedish trio consisting of Jake Samuel, Pontus Norgren and Marcus Jidell. Fans of Doogie White (Rainbow, Malmsteen) should note that he makes an appearance on the album, though I couldn’t tell by listening. My promotional copy of the album doesn’t divulge which track(s) he appears on.
The Ring play epic power metal with some musical similarities to Tobias Sammet’s Avantasia. J.P Fournier, who did the Avantasia album covers, has done this cover as well. Beyond those similarities you can’t really compare Avantasia with this metal opera, as they are simply not in the same league. While Avantasia is a masterpiece, TFM is a mediocre album and nothing more. Samuel’s voice is weak and he lacks the vocal ability for this kind of music. He sounds much better on Midnight Sun’s METAL MACHINE album from 2001.
The Ring deliver ten tracks on TFM. I don’t know when or where this album was recorded, but the band members produced and mixed it. The production sounds pretty standard for melodic power metal. One positive thing about the album is that it sounds a little darker than your typical power metal. According to the accompanying biography, these guys are among Sweden’s most talented and respected musicians. I only know one of the guys and that’s Samuel. Who the other two are is beyond me.
I really have no favorite track, since all of the songs pretty much sound the same. In fact, The Ring don’t do anything for me with their typical power metal sound. The best metal opera out there is still Avantasia and this sad attempt to beat that doesn’t work at all. Perhaps it was released at the wrong time, maybe they should have released it when there was real hype going on. You have to also question the fact that it’s called a “metal opera” when there is only one lead vocalists.