Sunday, November 12, 2006

Torsaker Parish, 1668 - 1676, Angermanland, Sweden.

The Storyteller, in my opinion, are a highly underrated band. They started with strictly acoustic guitars and lots of use of choirs. It wasn't very metal, but it provided a base for the solid power metal music that would come. Replacing the acoustics with electrics, The Storyteller play a blend of Blind Guardian with the anthemic choirs of Hammerfall. The folk elements here are based on melodic guitar solos along the line of Blind Guardian, but not as prominent, and also by the stylistic vocalings of L-G Persson. L-G's voice is more deeper with less range than most power metal outfits, but I find they work well here. L-G at one point left the band because record labels hated his voice and wouldn't sign them unless they had a new vocalist. However, after unsuccessful searches and L-G's ever present assistance with the bands rehearsing, he stepped back up to the reins and I'm happy he did. With so much power metal out there, it's nice to here a refreshing change to the standard power metal wail (that doesn't mean there aren't any, but they are used sparingly).

The album I'll be reviewing today is The Storyteller's third release "Tales Of A Holy Quest". For this album the band left the fantasy Land of Kail of their first 2 releases and moved into the very real land of Sweden. The album is based on the witch-hunts in Sweden from 1668-1676, concentrating heavily on the Torsaker Parish Witch Trials of 1675. The album has a darker edge than you'd normally find with power metal and it has the feel of real passion in it. "Tales Of A Holy Quest" starts off and ends with traditional sounding folk instrumentals "Voices From The Past" and "... And Still They Speak". These are mystical sounding and very much like minstrels playing and sets a good mood for the album.

"Seeds Of Lies", "The Mass" and "Trails Of Blood" are the folk heavy songs accomplished mostly with the Blind Guardian style guitar work and L-G's vocal melodies. "When All Hope Has Faded" is the most folk style song here and is reminiscent of Falconer.

"Conviction" is dark and heavy with an eerie choral bridge that's haunting and "Chamber Of Torture" is fast with nice vocal work and a dark, chunky mid section that gets the head nodding. The album is rounded out with the more traditional power metal songs "Words Of Greed" and "Blinded Eyes". Both are fast and melodic.

The stand out tracks are "A Holy Quest" which is mid-paced and ominous with some good vocal/guitar harmonies going and a very catchy chorus and my favourite "Trails Of Blood". This is an epic track full of passion. It starts off minstrel like and then gets fast and melodic. It features a dark, heavy opera-style section which is great and some beautiful female vocals.

The band makes a point in the liner notes that the "Tales Of A Holy Quest" is just to show what really happened during those years, but that no religious or political views were involved. I chose this album as the turning point for my transition from Hallowe'en (witches) into folk metal. I also chose it because it's subject deals with the darker side of Christianity in history and some of the lengths that man went to to deal with the "unknown" or more simply, a power struggle between the Church and the Masses. History is littered with horror stories and events that paint Christianity in a dark light (such as Crusades, Spanish Inquisition and basic religious wars). My intention is not to force an opinion or start any controversy, but simply to tie in my next post, and explain the justification I made for myself. So I'll summarize here by saying that some cultures and countries do not look kindly on Christianity and historically speaking, rightly so. With that, up next is Finntroll ...


Blogger anonymous jones said...

Yeah, I like it when there is a contrast between metal and something very soft and lyrical, too. I think it adds a kind of depth but it also can be misused and become formula and gimmicky. Deep Purple used to sometimes do this contrast with a nice intro (was it John Lord) on the Hammond organ, kind of classic sounding, and then suddenly belting into insane guitars, bass and drums cranking it out!
By the way, I've heard a song by the folk metal group "Jezaig" and it was great, I wonder if you have come across them?

6:14 PM  

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