Elvenking Two Tragedy Poets...and a Caravan of Weird Figures
Company: AFM Records Release: 2009 Genre: Hard Rock, Folk Reviewer: Raising Iron
Another road of musical divergence
Italy's Elvenking continue to invest in their now extremely multifarious and divergent catalog with their latest disc called Two Tragedy Poets...and a Caravan of Weird Figures. Seriously, can anyone predict what this band is going to unfurl next? Fortunately for the alienated fan base - along with other casual followers - as a result of 2007's The Scythe, the bards this time turn in an exceptional revelry of upbeat, lighthearted, and all around fun, folk rock royalty.
Two Tragedy Poets is essentially a stripped down version of the styles found on their debut, Heathenreel, or the later, The Winter Wake. In fact, you get acoustic versions of two songs from The Winter Wake; "The Wanderer", and the title track (and I daresay they're even better than the originals!). The rest of the album is comprised of newly written originals, save for the completely unnecessary and insipid drivel of a cover song called "Heaven Is A Place On Earth"; yes, you guessed it, the Belinda Carlisle popster from the eighties. Even though it's rendered completely in folky traditions, it's kept close to the original and hence too sugary sweet to be included here. It's also necessary to mention the track "Not My Final Song", which finds itself caped in a wonderfully upbeat and driving melody, but suffers from inane lyrical content. One other thing worth mentioning is the uncanny similarity between Damnagoras' vocals and Martin Steene (Iron Fire, Force of Evil). Really, there are moments where you'd swear Martin was brought in to sing certain songs; and I say this not to impugn Damnagoras (nor Martin), but merely as an observation worth noting.
Anyway, Elvenking have always had at their core folk-driven compositions, but here the distorted guitars are all but gone, with lots of acoustics, keys, whistles, violins, and other instruments taking to the fore. Think Blackmore's Night at their most rocking of moments and you're almost there. The band scores an extra half a point for turning the caravan a sharp 90 degrees in direction after the atrocious The Scythe, and continue down yet another road of musical divergence. Who knows which way the band will go next, but for now, it's great to be able to enjoy the pomp and circumstance that Two Tragedy Poets affords.
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