Written by: TL on 22/02/2011 16:36:02

Our metal reviewers must be lazy. That's the only conclusion I can reach, when trawling our admin forum I find "Doombound", the sixth album of established Finnish metal institution Battlelore, just lying around with noone claiming it for review. Either that or the band must not have amassed a great deal of respect with the afficionados we employ. Whatever the case, it's left to me to pick up the slack, and though I can't claim that this kind of folk/fantasy metal is something I listen to on a daily basis, I have dabbled occasionally, so Battlelore aren't treated to a total newbie.

To accomodate those that are total newbies however, allow me to first make a rather important distinction. Battlelore label themselves as epic/fantasy metal, and that immediately had me thinking of speedy or symphonic power-metal outfits like Fairyland or Dragonforce, but let me assure you, BL's sound is quite far removed from those bands. Firstly in the vocal deparment, which is helmed by a Tarja Turunen-style clean voice courtesy of Kaisa Jouhki, and a primal roar of Tomi Mykkänen, with the two complimenting each other in a manner similar to folk metal acts like Leaves' Eyes and Kivimetsän Druidi. Secondly in the instrumentals, featuring guitars that sound uncompromisingly heavy-metal and an assortment of (likely synthesized) horns, strings, bells, whistles, and keys, all of which are also usually attributed to folk-metal.

What strikes me though, as I flick through folders and myspace pages brushing up on my folk-metal reference-frame, is that compared to every band I know from this genre, Battlelore sound intentionally slower and less intricate. Whether this is for better or worse is likely a matter of opinion, as I'm sure fans of heavier and doomier bands will appreciate the sense of grandeur and atmosphere emitted from the patiently progressing melodies, but for me, each band that's popped up in my head as a reference has also sounded more fun, due to crazier guitarwork, wilder dynamics and more noticeable tempo-variations. Here I'm thinking of the likes of Wintersun, Darkness Ablaze, Insomnium or Ensiferum.

That's not to say "Doombound" is a waste, as six years of experience normally will - and also does here - manifest into a record that is unquestionably well played and produced, with a song like "Bow And Helm", striking me as a good example of how Battlelore are able to combine a thick atmosphere with an enjoyable riff. However, I must eventually admit that I find them slightly less exciting than the various other bands of their kind, that I've come across while reviewing.

Download: Bow And Helm
For The Fans Of: Kivimetsän Druidi, Leaves' Eyes, Ensiferum, Insomnium

Release Date 28.01.2011
Napalm Records

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