Elvenking – Reader of the Runes-Rapture
Label: AFM Records
Release Date: April 28th, 2023
Since their early days in 1997, Elvenking has been remarkable in their consistency of producing killer power metal with very little filler. Everything they touch seems to be spun from gold and the band loves to mess with convention. A touch of death metal ferocity here along with the orchestral flourishes of black metal there, nothing they have tried lately comes across as forced or contrived.
The band hails from Sacile, Italy and is comprised of Damna (vocals), Aydan (guitars), Headmatt (guitars), St John (drums), Lethien (violin), and Jakob (bass). They come together like a well oiled machine. “The chemistry inside the band is perfect at the moment” Ayden concurs. “Everyone inside the band is perfectly aware of his role inside a complex mechanism such as Elvenking.” This confidence is self evident as one gives a quick listen to part two of a three part trilogy. Reader of the Rules-Rapture, which is Elvenking‘s 11th album and is produced by Scott Atkins (Behemoth, Cradle of Filth).
Known for being a melodic metal band, the band has allowed heavier influences to slip in and it is all the better for it. The album kicks off with a mellow intro that brings to mind images of the band getting ready to unleash some serious headbanging. The first single, “Rapture”, is a mix of modern melodic metal but the vocals are spit out with venom until they give way to melancholy and a stoic sense of acceptance. The accompanying video is expertly done as Elvenking does not release subpar videos and I strongly advise you to check it out. The next single on the horizon is the amazing, “the Hanging Tree”, with accompanying lyric video. I detect some influences from power metal Gods Blind Guardian. and this is not a bad thing. The refrain at the end will be sung by festival crowds all over Europe.
We then come to third single “Bride Of Night” featuring Heike Langhans on vocals. The vocal interplay works well in this mid paced rocker and the video for this one is simply great and enhances the vibe. The overall feel of the song brings to mind symphonic black metal bands like Dimmu Borigir and Cradle of Filth which is pretty admirable for a melodic power metal band. “Herdchant” is a faster paced number that breaks down in all the right places and showcases their ability to get every head banging. The melodic bridge and subsequent build up are grand in scope and even more grand in delivery. It’s another highlight in an album full of highlights.
Every song continues to contribute to the album as a whole but my personal favorite is the melancholic “Red Mist”, which starts out very beautiful and explodes into chaos later during the song. Album closer, “The Repentant”, also wraps things up nicely.
The only real complaint about this disc is that the promo copy didn’t come with a lyric sheet and that can be unfortunate when reviewing a concept album such Reader of the Runes-Rapture. This is only a minor complaint compared to how much there is to offer here. This may be Elvenking‘s eleventh album but the band shows no sign of slowing down or running out of fresh ideas. This is an album that deserves repeated listens and continues to reward those that do.