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Elvenking - "Two Tragedy Poets (...And A Caravan Of Weird Figures)" (CD)

Elvenking - "Two Tragedy Poets (...And A Caravan Of Weird Figures)" CD cover image

"Two Tragedy Poets (...And A Caravan Of Weird Figures)" track listing:

1. The Caravan of Weird Figures (1:16)
2. Another Awful Hobs Tale (3:09)
3. From Blood To Stone (4:12)
4. Ask A Silly Question (3:30)
5. She Lives At Dawn (1:25)
6. The Winter Wake (4:12)
7. Heaven Is a Place On Earth (4:11)
8. My Own Spider's Web (4:21)
9. Not My Final Song (4:44)
10. The Blackest of My Hearts (3:31)
11. The Wanderer (4:51)
12. Miss Conception (3:49)

Reviewed by on June 7, 2009

"The rowdy, sometimes rough backup vocals on the choruses bring to mind visions of drunken rounds at an Irish pub."

Elvenking's sound is often compared to Blind Guardian and In Flames. While their 2007 release "The Scythe," with its mix of death and folk metal, was similar in style to those two bands, their new acoustic album finds Elvenking in calmer waters. "Two Tragedy Poets and a Caravan of Weird Figures" is an upbeat, fun listen, but the more punk and pop vocals-driven tunes probably appeal more to the Flogging Molly crowd than to fans of death metal.

The album still has plenty of the Celtic flutes and violin the band is known for, but there's not much in the way of pagan themes, or dark sounds. There's not a single death growl, and you'd have to listen really hard to notice any power metal beat. But for those who like old fashioned punk sounds and 80's fashioned melodies, "Two Tragedy Poets" is a good listen.

As always, singer Damnagoras' voice is dark and sultry, particularly in "From Blood To Stone" and the nearly goth ballad "She Lives At Dawn." The latter tune is a nice piece, though quite different from the rest of the album, and is a good choice for those who like classic piano ballads. Most of the tunes, though, are mid-tempo, with a folky, almost dance beat to them, and the rowdy, sometimes rough backup vocals on the choruses bring to mind visions of drunken rounds at an Irish pub. In fact, if you didn’t know better, you’d think Elvenking hailed from the land of the wee folks rather than their native Italy.

The most traditional Elvenking sounding tune, and the best track on the album, is "My Own Spider's Web." With a mix of an Asian tinged acoustic guitar and a persistent drumbeat that sounds like bongos, it's an unusual blend, but there's plenty of the flute, strings and Celtic sounds for which Elvenking is known. Fans who don't care for more radio-friendly, mainstream sounds should still be pleased with this one.

The only real blight on "Two Tragedy Poets" is the cover of Belinda Carlisle's "Heaven Is a Place On Earth." The performance is fine, and the gang vocals give it a slightly more hardcore sound than the original early 90's tune, but the choice in song is just quirky enough to make most of us go "Huh?" Then again, if you like pop songs, you should also like this cover. There's also a brief moment in the final track, "Miss Conception," where the violins become a bit draggy, but the tune is still a good piece overall.

Though Elvenking may have deviated from their formula quite a bit with "Two Tragedy Poets," it's still a good listen, if not the best in their portfolio. As with most acoustic albums, it's mellower, but that doesn’t mean it's any less well done. Established fans who are open to new sounds should enjoy it, as should many who might not consider themselves fans of folk metal.

Highs: Upbeat tempos and vocals-driven tunes make for a good mix.

Lows: The cover of Belinda Carlisle was a cheesy and unwise decision.

Bottom line: A fun, punk-tinged and folk metal acoustic album that is a big change from Elvenking’s typical fare.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)