Massacre Records (2012), Self-release
September 25th, 2010 / February 24th, 2012
Release length: 44:18
While it may be an independent venture originally, Elmsfire really pulled out all the stops in the recording. The quality sounds great so a self-released effort, carrying a nice clarity to every element. The guitars hold a heaviness to the deeper distortion that feels a bit common for the Heavy Metal style, but works well to blend in a necessary edge to the melodic “epic” sections that hold a strong Power Metal influence. The vocals are a little higher in pitch, but can really sound out of place for this recording. They come through rather well, being a little louder than the rest of the instruments, but also have a bit of a lighter, more mainstream softness to them. Even with the rougher push on them, they still sound a little common, though nicely suit the atmosphere. The bass guitar is rather loud in the mix as well, but acting as a suitable back up for the guitar chords. It’s actually the drums that areally come through well, showing off the tighter, thicker snares against the loud clicks of the bass kick, and the decently leveled and sharpened cymbals. There are also keyboards at work, but more times than not they are kept to a minimum, but what ends up included really helps to weave the proper environment necessary.
Thieves of the Sun starts off with a rather strong narration over some subtle, and very believable sound effects, such as the crashing of something into the waters of an open sea against a narrative about Elmsfire finally arriving, something that would work well (and is more than likely used) as an introduction for live performances, but here it benefits the edgier tracks, such as “Stormchild.” This heavily infectious track has an incredibly catchy beat throughout, carrying more of an early eighties foundation behind it. The energy captured on this song, coupled with the darker tones of the guitar distortion, will instantly have any Metal fan’s head banging along. The song itself isn’t the most complex, utilizing some simpler chords throughout, focusing on hooks throughout the whole thing. The gang chants in the chorus really add to the pulse pounding action, and the build up during it adds tension to the mix that the subtle keyboads accentuate. Tracks like this stand out as the most engaging on the album, though don’t make up all it has to offer. Much of what makes this track work is carried over into the opus “Ahab.” If you’re unaware of it’s origins, the band includes a narration with similar effects to the introduction track prior to the music kicking in. The speed changes throughout from fast to slow, carrying some beautiful passages with it and the guitar solo. There are plenty of well executed builds, such as the drum heavy elements around the three and a half minute mark that push a musical interpretation of the novel and the emotions of the title character well, all while maintaining a nice heaviness to the entire performance.
However, much of Thieves of the Sun does capture the energy of the group on many more songs, but sometimes in differing manners. “Worth a Tale” picks up right where the “Towards the Gates of Hercules” leaves off. The powerful vocal performance really makes it stand out the most, but there’s no denying the music grabs the listener’s attention just as well. The pace is on the fast side, but eventually gives way to try and be a little on the epic side, allowing the keyboards and harmonies to become dominant. Sadly, this takes away the aggressive side, and some of the impact it makes, but never really hurting the song overall. The whole effort manages to retain the listener’s focus throughout the many varied shifts the occur, keeping it fresh and a little more unique compared to the other songs. There’s also the ballad “Escape,” which starts off moving with haunting chords that give a cold, depressing tone. It does shift into heavier material rather quickly, voiding any emotion out. It does, however, feel natural in a progression sense, and helps to try to usher in an epic direction. While it ends up an enjoyable song either way, the ending feels a little hastened and easily could have gone another few chords instead of the sudden ending that hits awkwardly and abruptly.
Elmsfire bring a good number of energetic and exciting tracks with them for Thieves of the Sun, but, one thing you will pick up on quickly is that these are not the most unique Heavy Metal offerings. They can often feel a bit too simplistic or traditional for the style, saved largely thanks to the heaviness present, which is kept to an acceptable moderation. With that being said, there are plenty of solid, quality, and engaging songs to be found throughout the recording, making the whole experience a pleasant one. If you have the chance to check out this one out, or even Elmsfire in general, it’s definitely worth it. Since it’s been about two years since the this originally was recorded and made available to their fans, it’s safe to say a new full-length is due soon from the group, so now is the best time of any to become familiar with the potential this group brings with them. Thieves of the Sun may not be a stop-and-awe kind of release, but it definitely stands on its own with a slightly unique and accessable sound with plenty of cuts that will have you coming back for more after the first few times through.
01. Towards the Gates of Hercules – 1:51
02. Worth a Tale – 5:44
03. Eolian – 4:30
04. Stormchild – 5:59
05. Escape – 5:53
06. Ahab – 7:05
07. Tapipouri – 6:34
08. Thieves of the Sun – 6:41
|Initial Pressing Score: 7.5/10