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Battlelore - Sword's Song
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Written by Dennis Arancio   
Tuesday, 17 June 2003

Battlelore - CD Review
Sword's Song

CD Info

2003
Napalm Records
11 tracks + 1 bonus - 46:44
Finland-English lyrics
Epic Tolkien Fantasy/Folk Metal

I just love this stuff! Why? Cause it's different and not your run 'of the mill Nordic Metal, that's why! We have here, a band that will not sit still. Hot on the heals of their outstanding and possibly groundbreaking debut "Where Shadows Lie", they smack me in the face with their sophomore effort called "Sword's Song". Ladies and gentlemen, I give you "Battlelore". Epic Tolkien Fantasy Folk Metal done like no other in metal today. What we have here, is a mix of Bathory with female vocals, Cruachansome Folk/Death Metal and Rhapsodylike epicness, with melody and bombast that will astound you. What is most amazing though, is how far this seven-member unit, has come in just a short time. Founded by Jyri Vahvanen (guitar) and Miika Kokkola (bass) back in 1999, they have quickly taken hold of all the things that make Metal, in my opinion, the top genre in the music scene, today. And what's truly amazing, to top it all off, is there are two woman members holding it all together. They being, Maria, first name only (keyboards) and the unforgettable elvish voice of Kaisa Jouhki (female vocals). Yes, a voice that will ricochet in and out of your brain, long after, you have finished listening to this masterpiece of epic proportions. And the rest of the band is just as talented. Henri Vahvanen (drums, yes, Jyri's brother) lays down some thundering kickass doublebass drumlines and is at the top of his art. Add to all of that, Tommi Havo (raging vocals, guitar) and Patrik Mennander (clean male vocals) and you have the completion of a True Arctic Fantasy Metal orchestra.

The music and story are all centered around the written text of J.R.R. Tolkien's tales of middle earth. Demons, Trolls, and Dragons fighting against armies of Elve's, Dwarve's and men. But you can read about all of that with the URL I have supplied. Let's just concentrate on "Swords Song". Firstly, where the debut album, "Where Shadows Lie", had Kaisa in a somewhat limited role as vocalist. On this album, she has taken more of the lead in that department. WSL had her more in a chorus type role, but here we can appreciate more, the talent she has become. In my opinion, she has become, A True Metal Maiden! Such a sweet childlike voice amongst the demonic strains and Viking like  heaviness of Tommi Havo. A real balance between good and evil in this vocal delivery. Kaisa triumph's over this evil at every twist and turn and comes out sounding a sweet as ever. Miles ahead of her performance on the debut album. And tons more emotional. For the sake of telling you how special this performance is, I will liken it to Anneke's performance on "Mandylion". How's that for stretching it? Trust me, its that good. Maria, the keyboardist is also all over the top here. Her speed on the ivories can be compared to some of the best around today. She is an accomplished talent. As also, are all the male members of this fine outfit, which I think, are not finished making their mark in metal. I look for some great things from these Finns in the future. I can't see how it can get any better, but I'm certain, it will. I have faith in them.

To get into a track-by-track synopsis would do no justice to this work. It has to be heard, as a whole, to be believed. With track names such as "Son's of Riddermark" "Mark of the Bear" "Dragonslayer"(my favorite, wonderful chorus at the end) and "Horn's of Gondor", you know exactly what your in for. The band is also working on a DVD called "The Journey" slated to be out sometime at the end of the summer 2003. I just hope it's in NTSC format. Something I don't want to miss. Supposedly is going to have historical band content and some live stuff. Also of mention, is the album cover's artwork. Seems they only cover in Digipack, cause the first two albums are in that format. For "Swords Song" as it was for "Where Shadows Lie", the cover and booklet artwork are impeccable. And as for the production sound level. Flawless!  In finishing off this review, I can only say. I don't usually give any album a perfect, unless it is. Well, to my ears, Perfect! Play it loud!
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