Battlelore: Doombound

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Battlelore: Doombound
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Battlelore: Doombound
Symphonic Power Metal
Napalm Records
February 8th, 2011
Release length: 54:04
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Battlelore hails from Finland and formed back in 1999. Since forming, the group has had a few line-up changes over the years, and issued a number of full-length efforts. When the group started out, the band was very promising, having a very epic sound that was coupled by a very heavy atmosphere to the music that was often brutal and well suiting. However, the band’s material quickly started going downhill, leading to bad reviews for Third Age of the Sun and on. Not letting those negative words hold them back, Battlelore returns with their sixth full-length effort, Doombound, but is it an album that will finally redeem the group, or just further hammer the nails in their own coffin?

Many looked down on the band as a mixture of Amy Lee of Evanescence coupled with Mallcore acts such as Slipknot around the release of their infamous Third Age of the Sun release. Over the years, the band has attempted to correct this issue and try to push a more epic feeling towards their Symphonic Power Metal releases. Musically, the band has made huge strides, but at the same time, some of the same issues that held back their more recent material still remain. One of the biggest drawbacks to some of their releases have been the male vocals and their sounding very painful, a gutteral approach performed completely wrong. On Doombound, the male vocals have changed to a rhaspier style that works better with the band’s more epic sounding compositions that tread more along a Power Metal meets Viking Metal approach. The only issue here is that the vocals still seem a bit forced, and a little painful, though nowhere near as bad as they were on previous efforts. Shortly after going through a few songs, more then likely by the time the listener happens upon the second track, “Iron of Death”, this vocal approach will start to grow on the listener, and the gutterals that appear in the background, especially during the end of this track against the female vocals, sound superb and beautiful when in the aforementioned duet approach.

The atmosphere throughout the recording changes. There are times where some songs clearly have an epic approach that may have had some Bathory influence. This semi-Viking Metal atmosphere makes up a good majority of the material on Doombound, though it’s not alone. There are some songs on here, such as “Bow and Helm”, that really sound more like typical Power Metal with fantastical themes instead of an epic atmosphere. These tracks don’t really feel out of place, but simply don’t have that same kind of epic atmosphere or approach that others will have. That doesn’t necessarily hold them back either, as some of these sound exceptional, such as the catchy “Olden Gods” that works nicely with the female vocals, as well as “Fate of the Betrayed”, which is another emotional track that seems more oriented towards male vocals, though the female vocals on the track do make a strong presence for how little they are used.

There’s only one major issue with the album that can be noticed, and it’s the female vocals. It’s not that they’re bad, though they are a little typical for the Power Metal style. The issue here is that they are feel so soft, yet don’t quite have a drastic range, which feeds into the previous statement, and often seem to clash with the music, being better suited during more emotional tracks like “Enchanted” then anything else. Often that soft sounding voice just doesn’t mix with the epic battle-themed music of many tracks. The title track, “Doombound” does seem to suffer greatly due to having a decent epic atmosphere, and how higher the pitch of the female vocals are in this song compared to the others. While the song itself isn’t actually that great, coming off a little generic, these vocals really don’t help the song out either. Aside that, some of the songs on here feel epic, but just don’t quite hit home or are as catchy as some. “Last of the Lords” is a nice mixture of that epic and catchiness variation, though songs like “Bloodstained” and “Karmessurma” are good, but not necessarily catchy. Atop that, some songs just feel a little bland, such as “Bow and Helm” which, for as good as it is, just sounds rather generic and plain, making it a rather forgettable song, especially compared to songs like “Enchanted”.

Doombound definitely manages to redeem the band nicely, but still isn’t that strong an album. Some of the epic atmosphere tracks on here just seem a little bland and generic, and the female vocals sometimes don’t help the situation based on how restrained and soft they feel in some of these tracks. There are still plenty of great tracks worth checking out, like “Enchanted” and “Olden Gods”, and the male vocals have seriously improved, though seem to take a step back to allow the female vocals to have more domination in the recording. while not a bad thing, those vocals seem to work better with the more emotional tracks, as well as the heavier fantastical songs that lack the epic atmosphere. All in all, it’s a vast improvement over the last few releases, and shows a band that continues to progress and solidify their sound in many positive ways.

01. Bloodstained – 4:34
02. Iron of Death – 4:42
03. Bow and Helm – 3:56
04. Enchanted – 5:40
05. Kärmessurma – 4:23
06. Olden Gods – 4:21
07. Fate of the Betrayed – 5:08
08. Men as Wolves – 4:38
09. Last of the Lords – 5:43
10. Doombound – 8:02
11. Kielo (Instrumental) – 2:57
Overall Score: 8.5/10

Digital review copy of this release provided by Napalm Records.