posted on 3/2007 By:
Though I like to think I’m well-informed enough about most metal subgenres to write reasonably cogent reviews of each of them, I certainly have my areas of expertise and comparative lack thereof. Heavily Tolkein-inspired goth metal is one of the latter, so I might not be able to provide quite as much context for Battlelore’s latest as some. I can, however, analyze Evernight from an outsider’s perspective. Unfortunately, the results aren’t too pretty; though Battlelore don’t make any major mistakes here, they also aren’t about to win over any new fans with their paint-by-numbers fantasy/goth schtick.
Though this is my first exposure to Battlelore, my understanding is that Evernight is a generally heavier work than their previous releases. Indeed, this album is somewhat more visceral and intense than most likeminded discs, and throughout it maintains a fairly dense layer of guitars that sometimes approaches mid-tempo death metal in terms of gravity. New gruff vocalist Tomi Mykkänen’s mid-range bellow reinforces Battlelore’s heavy vanguard, but the melodic thrust of their music is pure goth metal in nature. Tracks like “Mask of Flies,” “Ocean’s Elysium,” “The Cloak and Dagger” and opener “House of Heroes” all stick to the expected recipe of guitar crunch, lush keyboard layering and plenty of beauty-and-the-beast male/female vocal interplay served up on a platter of bouncy mid-tempo by the rhythm section. Ironically, Battlelore actually do better for themselves when they deviate from the norm a little. “We Are the Legion” climaxes with a blastbeat that lends some much-needed urgency to the ponderous music, while “Into the New World” kicks off with some evocatively epic guitar harmonization before building into a rumbling, Amon Amarth-like melodic lumber that goes quite well with Mykkänen’s growl. Meanwhile, “Long Horizon” sports a rare folksy introductory section that allows clean singer Kaisa Jouhki to strut her stuff. Jouhki’s voice is appropriately somber and melodious, but her lack of vocal modulation of any sort makes her more of a stopgap than a truly captivating frontwoman.
I find it somewhat odd that a band so dedicated to Tolkein’s canon (though Evernight’s lyrical content is admittedly less Middle Earth-oriented than their past material) would elect to play this style of metal. I always assumed that bands with that particular lyrical focus attempted to capture a sense of epic scope and fantastic imagery; if this is Battlelore’s goal, they’ve failed this time around. On the other hand, if they were shooting for a niche-appeal, very average goth metal record, then they’ve hit the nail on the head. Your knowledge of your own taste in metal should dictate how to regard this album from here.
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