Two Tragedy Poets (...And A Caravan Of Weird Figures)
posted on 4/2009 By:
Contradicting the gorgeous fantasy artwork that decorates Elvenking’s discography, I have always found their music to be shades of grey. Nothing ever seems to stand out or have any lasting effect what-so-ever. It’s actually frustratingly impressive how uncatchy this band can be, in a genre that is purpose built for smiling melodies and unabashed choruses. Ever since they arrived on the scene with the promising Heathenreel in 2001, there has been a steady declination in their energy and traditional folk influence straight through to 2007’s heavier, darker, but formulaic release, The Scythe. Unfortunately for this Italian folk/power metal outfit, my attention is like a fish; you’re not going to catch it without a decent hook.
Two Tragedy Poets (…And a Caravan of Weird Figures) is a predominately acoustic return to full on folk, and although there is a lack of electrical wattage, the raw electricity coming from the acoustic instruments is that of a favored bar-corner band, surrounded by ale-spilling table dances, in a world of their own. It’s a breath of fresh air in many ways, but is not without the usual “that will do” violin lines and template song structures, watermarked by Damnagoras’ unmistakably euro voice, trying to rock it American chart style.
The slight fluctuations on this otherwise straight line include most of “Another Awful Hobs Tale”; a vigorous thigh slapper and the closest thing to being memorable, and “My Own Spider’s Web"; a nice stripped back campfire song driven by the sweet pattering of hand drums. Acoustically speaking though, there is nothing on this album that is nearly as captivating as the likes of old favorite “Skywards” (actually re-recorded for the Japanese release). A new version of the title track from The Winter Wake fails to add any new dimensions of interest, whilst “Not My Final Song” compromises the Elvenking concept, with the “kiss my ass” line and a frankly humiliating rock star monologue telling everyone to cheer up. We’re trying our best here.
In fact, Two Tragedy Poets… is lacking any sort of lyrical theme or style altogether and the album occasionally comes across as being a collection of fuck-about B-sides. The acoustic theme isn’t even that consistent either. Where the music often begs to be blown out the water with a fat riff, the only contributions from the electric axe are a simply appalling solo that sounds like one of Bill and Ted’s high fives, and an all electric cover of – get this – Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a Place on Earth” slapped in the very middle. It’s actually not a terrible cover… just a terrible idea.
The one thing I can’t get over is how artificial a lot of the instruments sound. The total lack of dynamics found in some of the acoustic instruments, and all of piano parts, smack of computer generation. Whether they are or not, I’m not sure. I also don’t have an answer to why things sound so horribly out of tune on the opening instrumental “The Caravan of Weird Figures.” I can only assume Elvenking are incorporating a broader influence of European folk, because it sounds flatter than Holland.
The crux of the matter is that I can’t honestly recommend this album to anyone who is not a prior Elvenking fan. Inherently acceptable, but relatively senseless, I’ve detailed it as Gainsboro grey (#DCDCDC) in my mental scrap book. However, for you less visual folks, I’ll describe Two Tragedy Poets (…And a Caravan of Weird Figures) as One Comedy Cover (…And a Load of Old Bleh).
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