Sunday, December 19, 2010

Real Time Review: Battlelore's Doombound

A couple of weeks ago I stated that this album would be the last real time review. Well I lied. Sorry about that but it couldn't be helped. Battlelore's new album Doombound releases in January so as a fan this will now serve as the last review for the year and a precursor for things I'm excited about next year. I did a really crappy job of describing this band in my A-Z article on them so let me say to those unaware, this is Finnish epic fantasy metal based on the Tolkien universe. The bandmembers dress like characters from Tolkien's novels on stage and in the midst of all this silliness manage to put out well crafted songs.Tomi Mykkanen handles the male growls and Kaisa Jouhki handles the female lead vocals.So with that out of the way it's time to dive into this album and see what we have in real time....after the jump.

Oddly enough Doombound is the first concept album by the band after six releases of themed music. The story centers around Turin Turambar of the Silmarillion and the Children of Hurin books. If you want to read the backstory you can go to Wikipedia but I really want to get to the music so lets do this.

Bloodstained: Song begins with acoustic intro and then bass and drums kick in as if tribal warriors are marching to battle. Tomi begins singing in clean low vocals. Now to Kaisa. Tomi is singing in a higher register as keyboards give an atmosphere in the back. I hope that's not the best he can do on clean vocals. Kaisa sounds great as usual. She has a linear style of singing but just enough range that it fits great with the music. This is actually a very mellow track overall to start with. Being a concept album I can see why they would choose to have the song be of this tempo.A nice piece though I think Tomi's style of growl is a bit distracting from the track.

Iron of Death: Double bass drums immediately kick in with organ style keys. Tomi's growls are more of a borderline roar. Male harmonizing with another member of the band. Kaisa part comes in. I get the feeling Tomi is playing the part of Turin and Kaisa is playing the part of Nienor.It's hard to say without a lyric sheet. Actually Tomi's part is more interesting then Kaisa in this song. Which is a rarity overall of the bands catalog. Heavy riffs kick in about halfway and it sounds great.Song closes out with Kaisa and yeah overall the song is a bit more interesting then the first.

Bow and Helm: Heavy intro. I always love the drums on Battlelore's music. You always want to march in an army to the cadence. Spoken word intro from Tomi. Tempo speeds up as Tomi starts roaring. Kaisa's part kicks in. So far her parts are very slow tempo on all of these tracks. Not too much variety in her parts. I hope this changes from here on out. Tomi starts speaking in a low voice again.It's hard to understand what he's saying over the punishing riffs and blast beats.I'm so used to long songs these days that the 4-5 minute songs seem to go by really quick.

Enchanted: Another acoustic intro that segues into a powerful riff and keys. Kaisa opens this song this time. So far the best performance by her on the album. The chorus has her and I'm assuming Tomi together. This is actually a beautiful song overall. Damn it. Now Tomi is roaring his part. This song could do without it. It was brief though and goes back to the acoustic passage from the intro. Now the harmonizing chorus. Very nice song overall.

Karmessurma: There is supposed to be one song sung in all Finnish and based off the name this might be the one. Yep. Tomi is singing in his scratchy voice in Finnish. This is actually the heaviest song so far. It borders some folk metal from their contemporaries.I actually like this. Funny how its sung in a foreign language but is the catchiest so far on the album. Kaisa now comes in halfway through and of course the song goes into a slower tempo. Very enjoyable though I understand not a word.

Olden Gods: Opens with fast drums. Tomi roars out his vocals after some riffing. Then back to Kaisa. After the last two tracks this song is sort of unremarkable in comparison. It's not boring per se because so far every song has had multiple changes throughout but nothing that really grabs either.Though Tomi is singing in a tone I wish he would have done more on the album in the chorus here.

Fate of the Betrayed: Cool riff and keys to open this song. Kaisa opens this one. And this song is reminiscent of some songs in the past where she is actually doing memorable phrasings. Very catchy riff involving keyboards on this one. Tomi's vocals aren't quite as memorable on here.

Men as Wolves: Heavy guitar and bass intro. Enter the keyboards which are always fantastic for this band. The music I think is better then the vocal parts in this song actually. Kaisa's part near the end is kind of haunting though her voice is hitting a pitch that is almost annoying if it went on further.

Last of the Lords: Drum and keyboard intro. Both strong suits of this album. Tomi is roaring again. Best roars by him so far in this song. Kaisa's part comes in and its evident she has another female harmonizing with her. It's almost a monotone part though. I think this song could have gotten away with Tomi doing vocals the whole way. Heaviest song on the album thus far.

Doombound: Title track and by far the longest on the album at just over 8 minutes. Cool guitar intro that sounds almost stonerish in a way which is odd. This song needs to pick up if it's going to be this long. Two minutes in and the riff and tempo hasn't changed. This is the dullest song by far. 4 minutes in and its starting to feel like a doom track. Finally the tempo be even slower. Keys and acoustic guitars with strings. It's a welcome change to earlier in the song though. Second half of the song is better with an emphasis on strings.

Kielo: Last song and the shortest at under 3 minutes. Begins with what sounds like horns and a constant drum beat as if an army is marching in the distance. String arrangements again which may have been prevalent in earlier songs I just didn't notice until now. I think this is the lone instrumental on the album. It's a beautiful piece.


So there we have it. My final impressions is that this is again a solid piece of music as usual with Battlelore. It was produced by Dan Swano so they brought in a heavy hitter to mix this thing and it shows as it does sound fantastic. Overall the album is very interesting but does suffer from dull points with inconsistent vocals from both Kaisa and Tomi. Neither have progressed much over the years in their range and in fact on some tracks takes a step back. I can't say I'm disappointed because I know they were shooting for a different direction with this.Is this a good album as a starter for the Battlelore beginners? It depends on what level of music you like. It is nowhere near as catchy as previous releases but does continue to carry the epic banner in scope. For the listener that is familiar with this genre or is really invested in music this is a good start. If you want more fun and upbeat material I would go backwards in the catalog and start there.

Please do give this band a chance beyond their look in pictures and onstage though because they really do take this music seriously considering the themes. Doombound drops Jan. 28th of 2011 and if you want to hear samples of what I've been listening to you can find them on Amazon.

Rating: 8 Sins out of a 10

1 comment:

Draeden said...

Kaisa Jouhki is so freakin hot. That is all. :)