Italian folk/prog metal outfit Elvenking return with its highly anticipated release, Reader of the Runes-Rapture. The second album in a planned trilogy, Rapture is a heavy, yet diverse record that picks up after its predecessor, Reader of the Runes-Divination, left off in 2019. The title track opens with an acoustic passage and foreboding strings before guitarists Aydan and Headmatt kick into high gear. The chorus is accentuated by majestic violins and plodding drums. “Rapture” sets a mysterious, but adventurous tone for the album.
The band’s quest continues on “The Hanging Tree” with its serpentine riff over pummeling kick drums. Symohn, the drummer, shines here as he returns to Elvenking after a five year absence. The midsection features a folkish melody with fiery guitar leads to liven the experience. “Bride Of Night” is a gothic tinged rocker that speeds up and slows down for the track’s duration. The melancholy violin interludes offset the dynamic guitar riffs. “The Cursed Cavalier” is reminiscent of early Iron Maiden with its baroque guitar riffs and epic scope. The band gets even heavier on “To The North” with its thrashing opening and Damna throwing out a few black metal shrieks. Elvenking do not deviate too far and still play within the parameters of power metal. A pity, as the band merely hints at how heavy it can play. “Incantations” is a fun romp through the castle with a bouncy drum beat and Lethien’s playful violin.
Rapture is heavier and darker than Divination, and that is a good thing. The music reflects the menacing turn of the lyricism, with the slight disappointment that Elvenking is still holding back. Tracks like “To The North” and “An Autumn Reverie” briefly hint at the band’s heavier influences and one wishes the band ripped it up a little longer. Production wise, Rapture sounds great thanks to Scott Atkins at the helm. Every instrument is clear, with particular praise for capturing the violins. Rapture is cohesive and makes for a smooth listen, which is essential for a concept album.
Elveking continues its riveting journey on Rapture. It surpasses Divination with its heaviness and musicianship. Elvenking has revealed that it can play even faster, which causes one to wonder how extreme this sextet can get. Perhaps we will know on the next album. For now, let us enjoy the journey on Rapture.
Check out Elvenking’s official website for news and tour dates https://www.elvenking.net/