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Elvenking - "Red Silent Tides" (CD)

Elvenking - "Red Silent Tides" CD cover image

"Red Silent Tides" track listing:

1. Dawnmelting (4:09)
2. The Last Hour (4:38)
3. Silence De Mort (4:27)
4. The Cabal (4:20)
5. Runereader (5:24)
6. Possession (4:07)
7. Your Heroes Are Dead (3:55)
8. Those Days (4:06)
9. This Nightmare Will Never End (4:47)
10. What's Left Of Me (4:39)
11. The Play Of The Leaves (5:30)

Reviewed by on February 23, 2011

"Ultimately we should all raise a glass of mead to the gents in Elvenking, as they had the brass clankers to write an entire album that would be easily derided and written off in our sub-genre loving, trooness-demanding, and always cynical metal world."

Elvenking likes to mess around with styles. Generally thought of as a folk/power outfit, Elvenking (to the band’s credit) doesn’t stick to the script, having said in the past that the act is influenced by folk music, dances from around the world, and “any other cool stuff may it be pop, punk or whatever." That’s a lot of latitude to play metal across. Previous long-player “Two Tragedy Poets (...And A Caravan Of Weird Figures)” was a big departure for the band already, moving to an entirely acoustic folk album that ranged from Irish pub music to metal anthems transposed onto acoustic instruments, and even included a cover of Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven Is a Place On Earth” (Helpful Hint: don’t go chasing that song down for your cover mix tape, it isn’t worth it). The shift is on again for Elvenking, as 2011’s new and long-playing “Red Silent Tides” combines 1980s pop-metal sensibilities and modern hard rock radio clichés with folk textures for a surprisingly decent effort.

Album opener “Dawnmelting” is a fairly straightforward folk metal cut, although it gets softer as it incorporates more big choruses toward the end. But then…wham! (literally.) We are taken back to 1987 as “The Last Hour” has sugary backing vocals and pop melodies in a pop-metal ballad played on some folksy acoustic instruments, and is straight from the Night Ranger playbook. But then….wham again! This time it is 2008 and “Silence De Mort” and “The Cabal” are pounding our ears into cauliflower with masculine hard rock radio posturing, again played on Elvenking’s favored folksy instruments. It’s like the band broke into Breaking Benjamin’s secret stash of killer riffs.

Now the troo among us will immediately stop reading and go on an Indiana Jones jaunt to find and destroy all copies of “Red Silent Tides,” but after a few spins the album really isn’t that bad (high praise, right?). Aforementioned “The Cabal” has a pretty swinging hook (although it could lose the outro samples), the ending of “The Last Hour” is pretty exciting, the acoustic interludes and folk/speed metal swaperoo is pretty neat on “Runereader,” and the band took a lot of steroids before writing the driving riffs on “Your Heroes Are Dead.” The solos, courtesy of guitarists Aydan and Rafahel, are also always bullseye-busting.

These fun moments carry us through the other moments that are not so good. And it isn’t even that the not-so-good moments are horrid, they’re just forgettable. The curiosity and ideas have all run screaming by the time the last three songs come around, thus they are all filler throwaways. Damnagoras’ vocals move between decent (“Those Days”), tolerable (“Possession”) and pretty painful (“Your Heroes Are Dead” – it’s a hit and miss affair). The ballads also tend to drag some in general, as Elvenking clearly had more ideas for the harder bits than the repetitive softer bits.

Ultimately we should all raise a glass of mead to the gents in Elvenking, as they had the brass clankers to write an entire album that would be easily derided and written off in our sub-genre loving, trooness-demanding, and always cynical metal world. And those first eight songs are pretty decently done pop-folk-hard rock-metal. And if that doesn’t get you curious, how about this - at least it’s fresh.

Highs: The diversity of riffs and textures on “Runereader” is interesting and exciting.

Lows: The inconsistent vocals grate after a while, particularly on the ballads at the end of the album.

Bottom line: Folk/power metal vets add 1980s pop metal and modern hard rock into the mix, resulting in a surprisingly decent album.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

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)