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Review: Elvenking - Heathenreel

Label: AFM Records
Year released: 2001
Duration: 55:06
Tracks: 11
Genre: Power Metal


Review online: July 10, 2004
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers' Rating
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Rated 3.13/5 (62.67%) (15 Votes)

After a well-received demo "To Oak Woods Bestowed", Italy's Elvenking produced their debut full-length in 2001. At the time, Folk Metal as a genre was just starting to gain widespread note, and so this album caught people's attention, and got Elvenking a lot of press.

I've had this disc for a while now, but am just now getting around to reviewing it. I suppose the reason ties in quite well with my overall review: this album is good, but not great. Elvenking are basically a Power Metal band who incorporate some Folk and even some Death elements. It's an original sound, but that doesn't make it great. The songwriting, for one, is pretty uneven. "Pagan Purity", "White Willow", and "Oakenshield" are pretty damned good tunes, but a lot of the rest of the CD lacks distinct identity and blurs together. Vocals are mostly a Power Metal style with a very typical sounding Italometal singer. There are some female vocals added here and there, and some very incongruous deathgrunts. I would have to say an overall problem with this CD is that the folk and metal elements don't always come together very well, and sound kind of disjointed. Especially on the album closer "Seasonspeech", which has one of the coolest folk to metal intro transitions I have ever heard, but then it bogs down in a welter of shifting styles and vocal approaches that turns it into a complete mess.

So there are some good tunes on here, and Elvenking get credit for being different and trying to find their own sound, but novelty alone won't carry a whole album. "Heathenreel" is generally enjoyable, but is unfortunately not a masterpiece.

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