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Elvenking: Era
Elvenking has been a band that many fans of Folk Metal will often praise, or, in the case of The Scythe, tear to pieces. From what I have heard in the past, the group has put out some good material, but nothing ever truly stood out as the most awe-inspiring as far as mixing Power Metal with Folk Metal had gone. In recent years, the group had actually fallen off my radar, not because I chose to ignore them, but largely because I didn’t know they were still alive and kicking. It was a surprise to see Era, their sixth studio full-length to date. AFM Records have picked up the group, which is a suiting home for them with this release, and a promo from Earsplit PR hit the ol’ inbox a few days ago and teased me to start listening to it right away. For the past few days, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing in the car, as well as at work in between writing articles.

Era still isn’t the most impressive of recordings for the hybrid style, but the Melodic tendencies of Elvenking do still exist to make some really catchy material, if not often on the simpler side with more of a Hard Rock vibe this time around, or at least that’s how I interpret it at this point. “The Loser” is easily one of the most memorable tracks off the recording, and the powerful chorus has stayed lodged in my brain since I first heard it, making me look forward to the start of the album every time I put in the player. “Walking Dead” has some simpler main verses, but they build up nicely to a richer chorus that I simply find addicting. I love it, and find myself singing along every time it kicks in regardless of whether I remember the lyrics or not. Honestly, I wish this song would be on the jukebox at the local bar I try to frequent, but I know it never will, which is sad since this would make a great drinking song, especially when the breakdown hits towards the end that would suit a round of Soul Crushers with good friends amid the many other hard liquor shots I’d be downing through the other passages. “Poor Little Baroness” really grabs ahold of me too. The mixture of Folk and Power Metal works out well, and again it has a bit of a simpler touch to it, especially with the guitar solo, but the quality of it really does just make it easier for me to get into.

The addition of Jon Oliva doing some guest vocals was a nice touch, however the softer mid-range clean singing of Elvenking can clash with the Jon Oliva’s Pain/former Savatage legend’s output at times, greatly dwarfing what the band themselves offer when compared side by side. This isn’t to say vocalist Damna’s performances are bad or weak. They do work with the lighter, often whimsical atmosphere the group presents here, and they sound great against the strong female background vocals that remind me a bit of Evergrey. Those two work in harmony for the more Folk driven “A Song for the People,” which stands out as one of my personal favorites next to “The Loser” thanks to the atmosphere and passion that can be found here, and for those same reasons I’m always anxious to throw on “We, Animals.” While it doesn’t have that extra female push, the male leads and stronger, sometimes heavier, more aggressive music really sticks out reminds me of the strengths that Elvenking possess.

On a personal level, I’m glad to have had the chance to hear Era. In no way do I forsee a critical review of this album from me getting too high a score, but it does have enough good material that I’ve been spending some extra time with it. I’d suggest it to fans of lighter Metal and beauty in the atmosphere, and compared to Wyrd, the album that sticks out the most in my memory of the band’s recordings that I’ve experienced, I can see a good deal of progress within the group from all these years that definitely worked in their favor for this one.

Article based on digital review material provided by AFM Records via Earsplit PR.