Elvenking – “Reader Of The Runes – Divination” (AFM Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Formed 22 years ago and now onto their 10th record, Elvenking are the best known of Italy’s folk metal bands, forged over countless tours with bands like Blind Guardian, Gamma Ray, Edguy and Virgin Steele. But “Reader Of The Runes – Divination” is something else, indeed a first for the band as it’s a concept album and an ambitious one at that, with “…Divination” being only the beginning of the “Reader Of The Runes” saga that is set to unfold in continuing releases! While some would’ve welcomed this a lot sooner, I think the band have chosen wisely to do this at this point in their career, as the new material is both deep and mature, and incorporates plenty of epic aspects along with touches of symphony reflective of their experience, composing and musicianship talents to date. In this first chapter you will get to know the characters of the story through huge, heart grabbing melodies, sung through soulful vocals and backed by a powerful rhythm and all told true thanks to the massive sound befitting the stature of this monumental new chapter. Indeed, from the fast, ultra catchy folk guitar melodies backed by double bass drumming, ‘Heathen Divine’ is simply irresistible thanks to Damna’s tender tones and huge singalong chorus made all the more dramatic thanks to the big background vocals that totally succeed in transporting you on an adventurous journey into Elvenking’s new world. Slowing down but getting even deeper with an equally addictive main melody, ‘Under The Sign Of A Black Star’ is somewhat reminiscent of early In Flames thanks to the passionate and powerful twin guitars of founder Aydan and Rafahel throughout, and again backed by those hammering drums from Lancs adding plenty of fire to the suave ice work of the axemen – truly impressive! Balancing it up on the mid tempo ‘Sic Semper Tyrannis’, the chest beating epic fury of Sabaton has definitely made its impression through its undeniably stirring singalong chorus, although its Damna’s soul that still keeps it in tune to the unique sound of this incredible band. Indeed, true to their name, Elvenking are even more majestic than ever before!