In an era that has seen Viking-Metal, Folk-Metal, Symphonic-Metal, and more, Battlelore stands alone in a genere of music that's best described as ‚''Tolkien-Metal‚''...their music is epic, with tales of battle, magic, mystery, and an orc or two.
On their latest, ‚''The Last Alliance‚'', Battlelore's song-writing has progressed impressively. Their sound is more melodic overall, and the hooks are catchy without compromising the band's ability to rock-out. One of the things I liked about this album is that the extreme vocals of Tomi Mykk√§nen are being used far more judiciously than most bands that use the female/clean-male/extreme vocal formula, and to better use than Battlelore themselves have used them in the past. Not every sound out of his throat is a grunt, so when he does roar, it has a greater effect. Exile The Daystar, in particular, shows how to use male vocals well without being too extreme. The clean male backing vocals give the album a greater epic feeling than the band has been able to achieve in the past, and further serve to separate Battlelore from the pack of fantasy/epic/symphonic metal bands.
This album also shows a better use of their female vocalist, Kaisa Jouhki. Her voval style is refreshing in that it is non-operatic, making her both more vulnerable and far more distinct at the same time...in Tolkien terms, she is both Arwen and Galadriel at once.
Some album highlights: Third Immortal is a strong opening, setting the tone for the rest of the album. The Great Gathering is where the warriors appear in the story, and the appearance of the highest density of male extreme vocals brings this point home....well done!
Another highlight is Daughter of the Sun...this song should be a single...it is tender, melodic, and the perfect mid-album breath of fresh air.
By the time you get to The Star of High Hope, you feel as though you've just gotten to the last chapter of a really good book, or the the final scene of a great movie. The Last Alliance is a masterpiece of aural storytelling, using the music, arrangements, and instrumentation to tell a story in a way that lyrics alone cannot. It's one of the year's best, and an album every metal fan must check out!
The Heathen Hippy gives it five rings of power!
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