The Last Alliance
posted on 10/2008 By:
The first I heard of this Finnish septet of orc-worshipping folk nuts was their sophomore effort Sword’s Song, and I didn’t like it then, and I don’t like it now, and for an obvious reason stated in my first review on Metal Review: I do not like female vocalists.
Come five years later and, struck by amnesia, I come across a CD; Battlelore is their name. “Hey, that’s a cool name,” I say to myself, “maybe they got some good stuff.” Much akin to Lewis Black’s “candy corn” routine, the bitter realization as to why I haven’t listened to them since Sword’s Song hits me like a magic missile, and I proclaim without hesitation, “son of a BITCH!” They have not stylistically changed, for those that are Battlelore fans, so don’t fret if you were wondering how your Dungeons and Dragons game was going to hold up with a mediocre soundtrack. If you’ve blasted Third Age of the Sun, …Where the Shadows Lie, and the well-received Evernight without complaint while fighting goblins with dice on graph paper, chances are you’ll find little at fault with The Last Alliance.
I respect the symphonic folk metal sound, but could one of them get a producer that can handle some keyboards? That “metal” sound they’re trying so hard to justify by having two guitarists, a bassist and a drummer isn’t ringing through when all I can hear are shitty “orchestral” keyboard chords, and I can’t take any vocalist who says lines like “I can smell the fire/hear the hammers and the wheels/I can feel the fear inside of me,” much less one that employs monotonous pseudo-dulcet mutterings. If you’re going to go for a clean approach to vocals, at least get a vocalist that has some range. What’s bugged me about Battlelore is that their female vocalist always sounds like she picked the perfect time to get a cold: right before she walked into the recording studio.
Even so, when one can hear the actual band playing, I feel I could exchange any of the riffs with a modern nu-metal song. It’s rare that the guitars aren’t bumbling along in slow, tired chugging riffs and the drums aren’t following suit in boring fashion. The only decent tracks on here are those that minimize the use of Kaisa Jouhki’s half-assed vocals, but if that’s what it takes to make the songs tolerable, I think I could be listening to a better symphonic folk album with guttural vocals, like, say, Equilibrium’s Sagas, instead of The Last Alliance. This is an album that panders to really simple tastes; it is mediocrity disguised masterfully as metal of the highest caliber (I mean, seriously – have you seen that artwork? Fucking killer I say!).
I’m really hoping my amnesia doesn’t get the best of me next time Battlelore comes out with a CD.
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