CD Review: “Reader Of The Runes-Divination” by Elvenking

Elvenking unleash a potent spell of folk metal on its tenth release, Reader Of The Runes-Divination. “Perthro” is a brief piece that opens the album. “Perthro” is the rune of fate and the unknowable. The tribal drums, sorrowful violins and droning vocals convey a sense of mystery and adventure. “Heathen Divine” is an exuberant track with crushing riffs and driving percussion. Guitarists Aydan and Rafahel lay out some great harmonies and solos throughout this track. “Divination” continues the lively tone of this record with a fast tempo and sweeping violins. This is an anthemic track with its hardy chorus and Rafahel’s energetic vocals. The smooth transition in to a tight groove makes this a enjoyable track from start to finish. “The Misfortune Of Virtue” is one of the heaviest tracks on Reader with its melodic death metal riffs and pounding Lancs’ pulverizing drums. Still, there are tranquil moments during the song’s chorus with its lush keyboards and saccharine vocals. The song seamlessly transitions from heavy to soft while maintaining its dark character. “Under The Sign Of The Black Star” is a grandiose track with its baroque guitar riffs and lumbering bass. The music paints a picture of a group on horseback traveling the countryside at night on a quest. “Reader Of The Runes-Book 1” is a near 11 minute epic that concludes the album in splendid fashion. The regal riffs and Aydan’s soaring vocals are underscored by a mid tempo that slows down for the melodramatic chorus. Blastbeats and black metal riffing kickoff the second half of the track before an acoustic guitar relaxes the intense atmosphere. An excellent end to this record that leaves the listener wanting to hear “Book 2.”

Reader Of The Runes is epic, symphonic metal that takes the listener on a journey. Elvenking play lively and passionately throughout the album, throwing out numerous surprises. Each track is lush and textured with several things going on at once but never sounding awkward or pretentious. This is attributed to the brevity of the songs and the album’s overall song order. Production wise, Reader is stellar, with clear quality and excellent guitar and drum tones.

Elvenking cast the right spell with its tenth record. Reader Of The Runes-Divination is a fun, heavy, adventurous record of the highest degree. Fans of symphonic, folk or power metal will certainly enjoy this record with its great musicianship and songwriting. Bravo Elvenking.

Check out the band’s official website here:

https://www.elvenking.net/

CD Review: “Alba” by Sleeping Romance

Sleeping Romance’s sophomore effort, Alba, is prime with heavy riffs and soaring operatic vocals. “Where The Light Is Bleeding” is a crushing track with pounding guitar riffs interspersed with piano and strings that accentuates the somber mood of this song. “Lost In My Eyes” is a fast paced catchy tune with intricate guitar harmonies that are both beautiful and haunting. Vocalist Federica Lanna’s voice is so serene yet powerful as she sings of fighting to uncover the truth. “Touch The Sun” continues the theme of self-discovery and determination. Musically, the song is groove oriented and features horns during the track’s midsection. “Forgiveness” is one of the longest songs on Alba and the centerpiece. A song about a scorned former lover, the emotional content of the lyrics makes way for a musical roller coaster of baroque riffs and guitar virtuosity. “Across The Sea” is a placid ballad that paints a picture of a crew resting for the night as the ship sails to its next destination. The title track is the penultimate song and barges in like an army through the gates of its enemy’s castle. The rolling percussion crashes like a battering ram while the guitars are lockstep in the melee. The unorthodox rhythm changes on the song add to the chaos making this a thrilling track from beginning to end.

This record is notable for its superb musicianship and songwriting. I have stated numerous times that symphonic and power metal bands are infamous for crafting pretentious compositions that go nowhere. That is not the case on Alba, as the songs are catchy but maintain a degree of complexity. The duel guitar attack of Truzzi Federico and Fabrizio Incao is both pulverizing and grandiose. Lanna’s vocals are strong and coherent and complements the sonic assault backing her.

Alba is a very good record and perfect for the season. There is a cold, rigid emotion on this album which makes it suitable for the Autumn and Winter. The album is somewhat accessible for casual fans of metal, although some tracks are fairly heavy. That being said, fans of Delain, Xandria or Serenity should definitely check this album out.

For news and tour dates check out the band’s website:

http://www.sleeping-romance.com/