Elvenking – Red Silent Tides
Release: 2011Feb22 (US)
Label: AFM Records
Eluveitie is found just before Elvenking in my MP3 collection; kinda like how the former’s home of Switzerland sits above the latter’s country of Italy. Both bands invoke folk melodies from their respective lands, however one has found strength in more members and authentic instruments, while the other has further forgone the folk and fantasy aspects, instead favoring pop structures.
They also both recently explored all-acoustic territory, but when it came to returning to heaviness, Eluveitie edges out. Okay, maybe it’s not fair to keep comparing to this other band with Elvenking. They still rock the rather unique feature of a violinist, only occasionally found in other bands like Kamelot, though all badassery succumbs to saccharine eventually. At least the narration is mostly absent.
It’s not enough to simply talk about fantasy. The term is dropped in “Silence de Mort” (along with tenuous Alice in Wonderland allusions), and lead track “Dawnmelting”again proves that a spoken word intro does not an epic make. No, you must transport the listener looking for the fantastic into that other world, and it takes four trudging tracks before “Runereader” truly transfixes. Notably, it’s also features now-rare harsh vocals by frontman Davide “Damnagoras” Moras. His range has commendably grown, yet sometimes strives too far sonically (“What’s Left of Me”) and too lame lyrically (“This Nightmare will Never End”). Perhaps Elvenking could consult Lionel Logue about their own speech. You see, because there was… the Oscars thing… ahem, anyway.
I originally met Elvenking on The Scythe back in 2007, and thought the album was alright, with its darker edge, bit of polish, and progressive spirit. Now, when hearing promising older material opposite the poppiness of Red Silent Tides—well, it’s kinda embarrassing. Honestly, after “Your Heroes are All Dead” there’s a three-song stretch of yawn until “The Play of the Leaves” brings one of the catchiest violin riffs on the album from Elyghen. It’s okay, but there just isn’t enough here to satisfy overall, and the fadeout feels more like “we didn’t write an ending” than “playing to the infinite”.
Again, not to rag on these guys, they are simply capable of greater work. My reaction seems reminiscent of my response to Reptilian by Keep of Kalessin. Sure, venture for the finest hooks possible, but know what you’re searching for, and Red Silent Tides may not be the best place to troll. Red tides should really be avoided altogether, yeah?
Try: 1, 5, 7
02. The Last Hour
03. Silence de Mort
04. The Cabal
07. Your Heroes are Dead
08. Those Days
09. This Nightmare Will Never End
10. What’s Left of Me
11. The Play of the Leaves