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Review: Arkngthand - Songs of Ice and Fire
Songs of Ice and Fire

Label: Independent
Year released: 2009
Duration: 47:32
Tracks: 12
Genre: Progressive Power Metal

Rating: 3/5

Review online: July 3, 2009
Reviewed by: Christopher Foley
Readers Rating
Songs of Ice and Fire

Rated 3.86/5 (77.14%) (7 Votes)

I hate to admit it, but this album is actually rather sleep inducing - each listen is starting to just fly over my head. Whereas on my first listen I would have given this a decent rating and sang its praises, 4 or 5 listens later and I'm ready to sling this on the failed idea pile – proving the importance of repeated listens. Arkngthand take an already pretty weak Power Metal backbone infused with influences from folk and rock music. The material is largely mid-paced and some of it is pretty original although sadly this is overshadowed by its shortcomings. There are also some progressive influences to be heard throughout which certainly spruce things up (the mid section in "At the Head of the Serpent" is a prime example). Vocalist Rim Steijvers is actually pretty sweet, displaying a rather unique voice that wouldn't be out of place in a Prog Rock act – it's also perfect for storytelling. One of the biggest turn-offs Songs of Ice and Fire display are the four interludes, two of which are sandwiched between the first two tracks on the album which greatly reduces the flow before we've even left the starting line. The fact that the sound is like a bargain bin audio book of a third rate fantasy novel really doesn't help the cause either.

Album opener "The Kings has Arrived" is a pretty good track displaying typical dual guitar leads of the Power Metal genre and interesting arrangements weaved around, which is where the track stands out. "Learning to Fly" is the lead off single from Songs of Ice and Fire and bears strong resemblance to the approach Blind Guardian took with A Twist In The Myth. Towards the end of "Learning…" is normally where the eyes begin to glaze over and it isn't until the savior of the album – "Waterdancer" that I bolt upright and take a little more notice, more of this please! In all fairness "At the Head of the Serpent" is another good track that features more of what Arkngthand do best. It's just a shame that the filler on here really derives from the good points so much that I want to turn the album off before I'm halfway through. Which causes me to miss out another corker from the track list in "The Woods of Whisper" displaying Helloween inspired intro riff coupled with good double kicking, especially around the mid-section although the guitar solo leaves little to the imagination. Seriously if this release was to feature a track list such as;

The Kings has Arrived
Learning to Fly
The Waterdancer
At the Head of the Serpent
The Woods of Whisper
Clash of Kings

We'd be on to a clear win and a rating of at least 3.75; I mean although this can get pretty sleep inducing, it's largely due to the obscene amount of filler (half of the track listing!). However these guys do show some potential and some pretty original stuff which is steadily becoming a rarity. I suggest checking out the tracks mentioned. As for the rest they're fantastic if you're having trouble sleeping. It's a shame something good can lose out due to the surrounding tracks. Maybe lose the filler next time guys?

Other related information on the site
Review: Songs of Ice and Fire (reviewed by MetalMike)
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