It’s always refreshing to hear veteran bands make interesting additions to their music. Elvenking‘s The Pagan Manifesto is a perfect example of how such additions can be made elegantly and truthfully. Not only that, but these additions, or more accurately emphases on already present themes, work to counter the inherent difficulties power metal faces. In The Pagan Manifesto, Elvenking utilize folk, death and even hardcore tools in order to elevate the repetitiveness and staleness so often found within the genre. These make the album an endearing and enjoyable sojourn in an innocent and nostalgic atmosphere.
It’s without a doubt when we say that this is mainly a power metal creation. All the recognized elements are present: the bass is regulated to galloping lines that interact in that certain way with the kick drums and transitions. The guitars are fast and blistering, prone to explode into poignant solos at any point. The vocals are iconic, featuring many choirs, high pitched screams and evocative intonations. Most of all, the subject matter and lyrics are classically power metal: with tracks like ‘Elvenlegions’ or ‘Twilight Magic’ , few could be mistaken as to the style at hand. However, it would be a mistake to expect only these staple sounds and thus strike off the entire creation. Several themes serve to set this album apart and they deserve a closer look.
First, the folk influences. It is no secret that many power metal bands attempt to draw on the sounds and, mainly, rhythm associated with folk music. However, these allusions are often manufactured, with some passages being so forced that the rest of the track just stops to allow for some lilting acoustic guitars and foot stomping beats. Not so here. This is as much a folk album (not folk-metal mind you) as it is a power metal album. Songs like ‘The Druid Ritual of Oak’ or ‘Towards the Shores’ display a true fascination and understanding of what folk music is. The upbeat tempo, orchestration and overall feel of folk composition is not just a curio or a gimmick: it sets the tone for the entire track. This is refreshing and ultimately engaging, creating true charm rather than commercialization.
The other two themes are the different influences from various styles that can be heard throughout the album and the way they break apart the generic structures that are usually found in these sort of albums. An excellent example of this is the track ‘The Solitaire’ and the closing track ‘Witches Gather’. The first one starts off heavily influenced by Edguy, almost sounding like a track by the legendary ensemble. However, in the background can be found vocals that remind one rather of Insomnium or even Shai Hulud at parts. These unique additions shake up Elvenking’s sound , smack in the middle of the album.
‘Witches Gather’ is a more complex case. The 8 minute long track starts placid enough but changes rapidly closer to the 3 and a half minute mark. Here, growls more akin to Lamb of God are suddenly introduced before the track picks up pace. It is finally joined by whispers and growls that hint directly at melodic death and even heavier styles. After a short break these elements give way again to a folk passage, before closing the album on the same note it started with: the fiercely moving and melodic passages at the heart of The Pagan Manifesto, a unique and masterful power metal creation for those seeking a powerful yet still innovative ride.
Elvenking – The Pagan Manifesto gets…