Just recently, I was interviewed on CBC Newsworld's "Weekend Edition". I was asked to critique the new Lord Of The Rings - The Musical production. As a fan of LOTR's in general, I thought I could give an accurate perception. I was pretty harsh. Probably more so than necessary. "Like a high school production with a really big budget" to quote myself. I'm glad I saw the play, if only for the neat special effects (The Balrog was fantastic!) even story wise and musically, I did not mind. It was the actors. I felt they did not embrace the roles as they were written and meant to be. Not all the actors were bad. Stand outs were Gollum and Sauramon (who I did not acknowledge in my interview and felt I should have).
The reason I mention this is because, hey ... I was on National Television cutting up the World premiere of the most expensive stage production and I want to tell everybody. And because it gave me an appreciation for the metal acts who've taken the works of Tolkien and given them a fresh perspective while staying true to the spirit of the source material. The first in this series of reviews is the band Battlelore, album "...Where the Shadows Lie".
This band are hardcore LOTR fans, to the point that they've created characters for themselves and Dress up as everything from Orcs to Elves to Ents and Gollum.
Most of these photos are for the CD jackets, but they have 2 videos and a DVD (which I don't own, but would love to have) which feature epic like stories very much in the vein of LOTR. I believe they use the more basic costumes for their live shows, though they have not toured Canada, so I haven't seen them.
"Shadows" is their first album (of 3 so far) and I think their best. I checked this album out cause of the fantasy style cover and recognized some LOTR references in the song titles. So I gave it a spin at the listening station at HMV and was blown away by the originality of the songs and lack of total cheesiness in the lyrics. Upon viewing the album's jacket I was prepared for a cookie cutter European power metal act (which I'm a sucker for and will be reviewing a slew of bands later) but what I heard was a Heavy, Gothic Death metal sound with some folk influences.
They incorporate 3 styles of vocals, female, clean male, and Death Growl. The clean male vocals along with the keyboards give the music the gothic doom feel, especially an songs "The Grey Wizard", "Khazad-Dum (pt.1 Ages of Mithril)" and "Journey into Undying Lands". The female vocals with acoustic interludes bring the folk feel featured prominently on "The Green Maid" and "Feast For The Wanderer (Bonus Track)". Now my favourite tracks are "Shadowgate" and "Raging Goblin". "Shadowgate" is quite different than the other songs in that it has an industrial feel. It's a dark rhythmic tune and a nice mix of the bands elements. My favourite song would be "Raging Goblins". This song could easily appear on any number of Death metal albums in that it is the heaviest and downright sludgy. It sounds like a mob of goblins attacking a group of Hobbits, an elf, a dwarf, wizard ... humans .... you get the picture. It drives into you, then melts into slow doomy death metal, then rips into a head pounding thrash riff to end. One fantastic song!
I'll be reviewing the other 2 albums in the next few days to keep with my first series of theme reviews. This album's cover art is of Morgoth and The High King of Noldor. I'm mention this only because my next review is of Blind Guardian's "Nightfall In Middle Earth" which is based on Tolkien's The Silmarillion. Which is about the origin of the rings and the battle between Morgoth and the High King of Noldor.... Sorry ... I just geeked out a bit ....