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Where The Shadows Lie - Battlelore

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Genre: Hard Rock & Metal - Heavy Metal / Artist: Battlelore / Audio CD released 2002-05-20 at Napalm

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      21.03.2008 10:23
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      Battlelore's first album (2002).

      J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy works have long been a source of inspiration for heavy metal bands, and despite some significant crossover with the darker side of black metal (most obviously Count Grischnackh a.k.a. Varg Vikernes), it's most closely associated with the swords and sorcery sagas of European power metal. To their credit, Finland's Battlelore have approached the task in a different way than the hordes of Blind Guardian imitators, but this also sees their style become significantly removed from a power metal sound and more towards the gothic metal side of things, a fragile genre that can all too easily lapse into symphonic pomposity, tedium or mainstream mush. Battlelore's albums are a little bit of each.

      The most immediately obvious aspect of their style is the duet between Patrick Mennander's near-death metal growls and Kaisa Jouhki's light singing, a style practiced by many gothic metal bands following the "beauty and the beast" approach of Theatre of Tragedy among others. This is inherently flawed due to Mennander not pulling his weight, as his growl sounds frankly embarrassing, and the few times he drifts into a more standard, bassy style of spoken word in songs like 'Raging Goblin' it can't help but seem like sub-par Bal-Sagoth. The musicians similarly fail to strike a satisfying balance between memorable, strong riffs and melodies and the lighter, more atmospheric keyboards, which inexplicably follow a spacey seventies sound part of the time rather than something more suited to a Tolkienian theme, and the whole thing ends up containing more atmosphere than substance.

      This would be a bit more acceptable if honestly branded as an atmospheric album, but then the band tries to attain the best of both worlds by including some commercial-sounding guitar riffs and even the occasional lead melody as heard in 'Fangorn.' These touches only confuse matters, especially when songs like 'Ride With the Dragons' are clearly trying to sound heavy before relenting and once again fading into a mellow section. This style would remain relatively unchanged - in fact, entirely unchanged for the rest of the band's career up to the present day, creating albums that should get die-hard Tolkien fans excited, as long as they were metal newcomers and didn't experience the frustration I had that this could have been so much more.

      1. Swordmaster
      2. The Grey Wizard
      3. Raging Goblin
      4. Journey to Undying Lands
      5. Shadowgate
      6. Fangorn
      7. The Green Maid
      8. Khazad-dûm Pt.1 (Ages of Mithril)
      9. Ride With the Dragons

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  • Product Details

    Disc #1 Tracklisting
    1 Swordmaster
    2 Grey Wizard
    3 Raging Goblin
    4 Journey To Undying Lands
    5 Shadowgate
    6 Fangorn
    7 Green Maid
    8 Ages Of Mithril
    9 Ride With The Dragons
    10 Feast For The Wandere