Heathenreel
ELVENKING

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ELVENKING - Heathenreel cover
4.39 | 14 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 2001

Filed under Folk Metal

Tracklist

1. To Oak Woods Bestowed (0:46)
2. Pagan Purity (4:35)
3. The Dweller of Rhymes (4:48)
4. The Regality Dance (5:46)
5. White Willow (5:59)
6. Skywards (5:32)
7. Oakenshield (6:37)
8. Hobs an' Feathers (2:27)
9. Conjuring of the 14th (6:37)
10. A Dreadful Strain (4:14)
11. Seasonspeech (7:39)

Total Time: 55:06

Line-up/Musicians

- Damnagoras / Vocals
- Jarpen / Guitar, Harsh & Backing Vocals
- Aydan / Guitar, Backing Vocals
- Gorlan / Bass
- Zender / Drums

with

- Pauline Tacey / Soprano vocals
- Laura De Luca / Backing vocals, "spring" vocals on track 11
- Christiano Bergamo / Keyboards on tracks 4, 6, 7, 9, 10
- Paolo Torresani / Keyboards on tracks 2, 3, 5
- Umberto Corazza / Flutes
- Paolo Polesel / Fiddles

About this release

Released by AFM Records.

Thanks to adg211288 for the updates

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Afm Records Germany 2006
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ELVENKING HEATHENREEL reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

adg211288
Heathenreel is the first album from Italian folk/power metal band Elvenking and in my opinion it remains their best release, being one of the few albums that I feel is really worth a perfect score regardless of whatever rounding system is being used (which is what makes most albums I rate get a full 5 stars), but for me there is no doubt that Heathenreel is worth full marks, even though the band’s vocalist Damnagoras (now shortened to just Damna) isn’t the best vocalist in the world, being something of an acquired taste, there is one thing that makes that little hiccup seem irrelevant, the album is that enjoyable that I don’t even care, and I’m normally picky about such things.

Damnagoras knows how to deliver these songs in just the perfect way for this album to work. It’s because of this that I’m not deducting points for having a weak singer. He sings in a folksy style where required and can easily shift to power metal vocals but he always done it with the sort of energy that tells you one thing: he enjoyed making this music. I can hear passion in his performance and it really does save the vocal performance. I would go as far to say that the vocals are enhanced by this.

Since I’m explaining the vocals already I’ll tell you about the second vocalist Jarpen. He’s is mainly a guitarist but every so often he pops up to deliver some death growls. He doesn’t do much vocal, not even being heard until the fourth track, but what vocals he does do fit in perfectly with Damnagoras. His growl is very strong and he could probably carry a more extreme metal album on his own merits. Elsewhere in the vocal department there are two guest female singers that appear a couple of times. Both have good voices but are only there to enhance certain sections of the songs where the male voices just don’t quite cut it, at least on their own. All four voices used to great effect in the closing masterpiece that is Seasonspeech.

Now that I’ve explained the vocals let’s talk about the instruments. Jarpen and fellow guitarist Aydan are clearly very gifted guitar players and along with bassist Gorlan keep the metal sections following very well. The guitar solos are excellent work. Zender’s drumming is also very good. But it’s the folk influences that give Elvenking their life. The acoustic guitars are even more impressive than the electrics and the folksy instruments fit in effortlessly, as can be heard when the music shifts between the metal and the folk.

And obviously the song writing is amazing. I especially like the fact that although at times Elvenking may be a bit generic they are certainly no one trick pony and they make this clear very early on as can be heard between Pagan Purity and The Dweller of Rhymes, the first two proper songs on the album (track one is an intro). It can be heard with the drastically different guitar playing styles. The Dweller of Rhymes adopts an almost thrash sound. Later on in Skywards there is perhaps the biggest surprise on Heathenreel. The song is mostly acoustic but gradually builds up to include the electrics but even then the sudden shift into what can only be described as them doing their best to go into a full on extreme metal section is totally unexpected. To a lesser degree the first appearance of the female singers is another surprise. The lyrical writing throughout is exceptional and very fitting, especially The Conjuring of the 14th and The Regality Dance. All the songs are great but the following ones are just that cut above the others.

The Regality Dance is the fourth song on the album and the first to feature both Damnagoras and Jarpen on vocals (a trend that then continues for most of the album). It starts off very folksy and I can picture Damnagoras with one of the guitar players sitting on a village green sometime in the past playing this section of the song. The setting would be some sort of special fair day or festival. I like that the song is able to put images in my head like that, I feel it’s a sign of a really great atmosphere. Then it gets heavy and that abundant energy can be heard all over again.

Seasonspeech is the final song on the album and actually uses four different singers at various times, but is dominated by Damnagoras most of the way through. This song is, along with The Regality Dance, one of the most epic folk metal songs that I’ve ever heard. I don’t really think words are very good at describing just how good it (and the whole album) really is. You just have to hear this.

Oakenshield is the final of my top three tracks from Heathenreel. I think the mixed vocals on Damnagoras, Jarpen and guest singer Pauline Tacey makes this excellently written song even more special.

But I have to give a special mention before I finish this review up to the album’s intro track, To Oak Woods Bestowed. Normally I hate intro tracks and in many cases I deduct points from the final score, particularly if the intro track is pointless. Well on Heathenreel the intro is neither pointless nor lacking in musical integrity. It’s just a short folk instrumental and is a very fitting way to start off an album such as this. While Pagan Purity does burst straight in both tracks work on their own enough for it not to matter.

So in conclusion all I have to say is: get this album if you like folk metal at all, because this is easily right up there with the best of them. While it may be true that Elvenking struggled to keep up this sort of quality (reaching an all time low in 2007, but redeeming themselves in more recent years), this album is an absolute masterpiece.

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven)

Members reviews

Primeval Scum
The Regality Dance, White Willow, and Seasonspeech are without a doubt among the best folk metal songs I've ever heard. Pagan Purity, Skywards, and Oakenshield are all great tracks in their own right.

Those six tracks are fantastic, but the rest of the album is mostly filler, which brings down the overall rating a bit.

When I first heard Elvenking's vocalist, I wasn't sure if I liked his voice. At first, he almost sounded like a pop-punk singer. However, you quickly get used to it and come to love it. I now cannot imagine the band any other way and consider his voice one that truly captures the pagan spirit because when he sings you can truly tell how much passion and love he has for each word and note in the music. His voice, and the rest of the band's performances, sound so carefree and joyous, as if they're playing in a vast green meadow.

Several amazing songs, with a pointless intro and a couple filler tracks. If all of the songs were as good as the first three I mentioned it would be one of the easiest 5-stars I've ever given, but overall it comes out to roughly a 3.9/5.

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  • DippoMagoo
  • Earendil
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