BATTLELORE
Symphonic Metal / Folk Metal • Finland

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Battlelore is a metal band from Lappeenranta, Finland that mixes a number of different metal styles into their sound, including symphonic metal, power metal, melodic death metal, gothic metal, and sometimes folk and industrial metal. All of Battlelore's lyrics specifically revolve around people and events in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth.

Battlelore was formed in 1999 and recorded its first demo the same year, but it wasn't until their second demo in 2000 that they secured a deal with Napalm Records. The band was since released six full-length albums through the label, the first of which was 2002's ...Where the Shadows Lie.

After their second album Sword's second Battle's male vocalist Patrik Mennander left the band. He was replaced by Tomi Mykkänen. The first couple of releases with Mykkänen, Third Age of the Sun (2005) and Evernight (2007) were notable for sticking to the 'beauty and the beast' formula vocally, as Mykkänen did not
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BATTLELORE Discography

BATTLELORE albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 4.50 | 2 ratings
...Where the Shadows Lie
Symphonic Metal 2002
.. Album Cover 3.96 | 4 ratings
Sword's Song
Symphonic Metal 2003
.. Album Cover 3.76 | 3 ratings
Third Age of the Sun
Folk Metal 2005
.. Album Cover 2.55 | 5 ratings
Evernight
Symphonic Metal 2007
.. Album Cover 4.16 | 4 ratings
The Last Alliance
Symphonic Metal 2008
.. Album Cover 3.00 | 3 ratings
Doombound
Symphonic Metal 2011

BATTLELORE EPs & splits

BATTLELORE live albums

BATTLELORE demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Warrior's Tale
Symphonic Metal 1999
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Dark Fantasy
Symphonic Metal 2000

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.. Album Cover
4.50 | 1 ratings
The Journey
Symphonic Metal 2003

BATTLELORE Reviews

BATTLELORE ...Where the Shadows Lie

Album · 2002 · Symphonic Metal
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adg211288
Metal and Tolkien. The two have been mixed many times in many different ways and here we have not only an album based around the man’s literacy works, but a band that seems to be completely obsessed by them right down to their imagry. It’s been done many times as I said but that certainly doesn’t mean the album and indeed the band aren’t any good. In fact this is the best Tolkien based metal band that I’ve heard to date.

Musically most of these Tolkien inspired albums/bands are very different but due to their common lyrical theme and always going to be compared. Well I’m going to break with that tradition and talk about this album, because this is a review for Battlelore, not Blind Guardian or Witchking or (insert Tolkien influenced band name here). So what we have here is basically symphonic metal but with influences from power metal and to a lesser degree gothic, progressive and maybe even a little melodic death metal, the former due to the vocals which are a mix of clean female, clean male and grunts. The progressive comes from the fact that Battlelore do mix several styles of metal music and that some of their song structures are far from being standard. They are not progressive enough to be consider a progressive metal band however, the influence is that minor. Battlelore’s guitar riffs are very heavy and their keyboards add an extra layer to their overall sound. The drumming is impressive enough and the songs are very well composed, not least due to the fact that each is distinct in its own right and as Where the Shadows Lie moves forward the listener will not know what direction they are about to be taken.

Special mention before I talk about the songs to the vocal performance however. Battlelore have two vocalists, Kaisa Jouhki, the band’s female vocalist, doesn’t actual handle as much of the vocals here as on later records but her performance is stunning nevertheless. She is most prominent on Journey to Undying Lands and The Green Maid. The second vocalist, the male, is Patrik Mennander, who sometimes sings cleanly and at others growls. I must say, although this has no relevance to this album, that Battlelore was a much better band with Patrik on board, as the mix of three distinct vocal types gave them much more versatility. His replacement, Tomi Mykkanen, only growled on his first couple of albums with the band, and his cleans aren't a patch on Patrik's. Now back to the review. There is also one song on Where the Shadows Lie that has vocals done by guitarist Tommi Havo, but I’ll explain this in detail when I talk about the song (see ‘Raging Goblin’ below). To concluded this section however all I need to tell you is that Havo is a growler but he is much more harsh and extreme than Patrik is.

Now onto the songs themselves. Opening the album is Swordmaster. The vocals are dominated by Patrik, alternating between clean singing and his growl. The music is instantly heavy and fast paced, only slowing down for Kaisa’s vocal arrival in the clean bridge section of the song, which is the main case of where my unusual structures reference comes into play, as both main verses are done before the first chorus and we get the section which I called the bridge after only that one chorus section. The Grey Wizard is much more traditionally structured song and features Kaisa a lot more. Musically its more of the same but the vocal delivery is what makes the true difference to Swordmaster.

Raging Goblin on the other hand is an entirely different kettle of fish, and is certainly the most oddball track on the album. Here we lose Kaisa and Patrik and get Tommi Havo on vocals instead. It’s easy to know why this song is called Raging Goblin, and why Tommi’s vocals are credited as raging vocals in the album notes. The man sounds utterly berserk. This song is more like death metal that anything else but the lyrics, rather than make it seem brutal make is somewhat comical to listen to. The song is so out of place that I’m not actually sure if its inclusion was a good idea or not, as by the time it finished and the next track is starting (which in my opinion is the best track) I was left wondering; “Did I really just hear that?”

Luckily for me it was the fourth track, Journey to Undying Lands that drew me to this album in the first place, otherwise I may have had to skip back and restart it after the shock that Raging Goblin had caused me. The song begins with a very basic guitar line, before the second guitar hit’s the chords that announce the arrival of the rest of the instruments. The keyboard plays a vital role in the melody of the song while the guitars and bass thrash away over Kaisa’a clean vocals. The vocals quickly becoming a duet between Kaisa and Patrik, more so than in other songs because with this one it actually sounds like the pair are communicating with each other rather than just taking turns to sing. What is music epic about the song however is the fact that the music builds up a real sense of tension every time before Patrik begins a growled section. At other times the music quietens for Kaisa’s chorus section, adding another touch of a progressive influence to the album. The song is almost theatrical, as demonstrated in its music video.

At the other end of the music spectrum of Where the Shadows Lie is a song called The Green Maid which features only light music and most of the time only Kaisa’s voice. The clean guitar sound is very clean and while slightly basic sounding the tune is pretty good. It fits in well with the rest of the album but I can’t help but wonder if its here to balance out Raging Goblin. If so it does the job well.

Highlights from the remaining heavy material are Fangorn and Khazad-dum pt. 1 (Ages of Mithril). Fangorn has a standard structure with growled vocals for the verses, female vocals for the chorus and for the bridge Patrik switches to clean vocals. It’s more standard but very good. Khadzad-dum however only just misses out on being the song that I’d consider to be the album’s best, mainly because of the truly awesome guitar riff that starts the song and the excellent vocals from both lead singers.

The remaining tracks are Shadowgate and Ride With the Dragons. While good songs neither sticks in my mind as much as the tracks explained above. There is actually a tenth track hidden on the end of Ride With the Dragons which sees the band playing in a much more folksy style. It is however neither fantastic or entirely worthless, but being a hidden track I don't really factor it in the overall score given to the album.

Overall an exceptional release, not least due to the fact that this is the band’s first full-length CD. Highly recommended for fans of metal and Tolkien or fans of bands such as Lacuna Coil who want a more extreme metal edge to the music. It's also a great starting place for anyone interested in Battlelore even with them now many albums down the line.

(Originally posted at Heavy Metal Haven, scoring 9.3/10)

BATTLELORE Doombound

Album · 2011 · Symphonic Metal
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Time Signature
Last of the lords of cheese...

Genre: symphonic metal

Symphonic metal can be very good, I think, if the symphonic elements contribute something to the music. I think that Dimmu Borgir and The Bridal Procession utilize symphonic elements very efficiently on "Abrahadabra" and "Astronomical Dimensions" respectively. However, if the symphonic elements do not really add anything interesting to the music, we often end up with pretentious and very cheesy dredge.

I think that Battlelore's "Doombound" falls under the latter category. The rock/metal aspect of the music on this album is not bad - it is very much standard modern metal which draws on power metal, melodeath and gothic metal. But I do not think that the use of keyboards and symphonic elements add anything. It is almost like these elements are just there to be there. They do not even make the music sound epic or anything.

The vocals are horrible. The female vocals are weak and boring and totally uninteresting and do not belong in rock music at all. The male vocals are just annoying, and regardless if they're growled, yelled, screamed or sung in a rough rock music fashion, they just come off as sounding stupid.

Hardcore fans of symphonic metal might enjoy this album. Personally, I think it fails. It shows that keyboards, symphonic instrumentation, and female vocals in themselves do not make for good symphonic metal.

BATTLELORE Doombound

Album · 2011 · Symphonic Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
adg211288
Doombound is the sixth full length album from this Finnish metal band, released in 2011. Musically Doombound is typical Battlelore, but in general it has quite a different feel to it than their previous album The Last Alliance, it’s not as fast paced an album, but in other respects it follows pretty much the same formula, with male vocalist Tomi Mykkänen continuing to use clean vocals along with his growls, making the music sound more in the vein of the group’s first two albums which featured his predecessor Patrik Mennander. The musical approach may be predictable, without bringing many new ideas to the Battlelore table, but it does retain the group’s unique symphonic metal sound, which while typically lumped into the same genre, in no way sounds like some of the top names from the genre such as Within Temptation or Nightwish. The sound here is more guitar driven, making it heavier than most symphonic metal typically is. There is also the odd moment where a melody may have a very minimal folk feel to it, and while it’s not as evident on Doombound, some of the band’s music reaches into more extreme territories (you can hear some of this on the bonus DVD). In short symphonic metal probably isn’t an accurate tag to give them because the band is pretty unique, which is why this lengthy introduction was required so that people unfamiliar with them don’t ignore the album/band based on the tag. And so let’s get this review going proper.

While Battlelore have always written lyrics based on the works of Tolkien, Doombound is actually the first album in their career to be an actual concept album, about character Túrin Turambar. Strangely for a concept album they actually features a song written in their native Finnish, a first for Battlelore. This track, Kärmessurma, is easily one of Doombound’s highlights.

While as an album Doombound has its moments, I must say that after the strength of The Last Alliance this is a bit a disappointment. It’s a good solid release, very solid in fact, but I was hoping for the best Battlelore offering to date with this album since they seemed to be really hitting their stride with The Last Alliance – this feels like something of a step backwards overall, at least in terms of the impact the album has on me. There are actually a lot of good ideas going on in the music throughout Doombound, and they’re not disjointed ideas either, and the performance of the musicians is top notch, but in my opinion there’s just something undefined missing from Doombound that holds it back from the real high end of a scoring system.

Like much of Battlelore’s material, Doombound took a few listens to really appreciate. Though I am still disappointed by it even now that I have got myself familiar with its songs, when I first listened to the album it actually came across as more of a bitter disappointment, since parts of it actually bored me. It’s definitely a grower though, and now after several listens I really like it. I think it must be mentioned that as a concept album the music is designed to tell me of a story than any of the band’s previous Tolkien themed works, and taking that into deeper consideration, this album works very well. Those initial impressions of the album lacking something really special haven’t gone away, but I wouldn’t consider this a major letdown in their career. To make my feelings known in short, I’m only disappointed by this release because The Last Alliance was so good that I expected much more from Doombound, it is in no way a bad album and I expect that the fans, like myself, will find it a worthy addition to the Battlelore discography.

Highlights from the album are opener Bloodstained, with which I note that male vocalist Tomi Mykkänen vocals are pretty varied, ranging from his trademark growl, cleans, and something that sits in between the two. Iron of Death which follows is another great track, as is Last of the Lords, which features some guest guitarist from Dan Swanö (Edge of Sanity, Star One et all). The Finnish track Kärmessurma as mentioned above is another great piece and features one of Kaisa Jouhki’s best vocal performances on the album. Fate of the Betrayed and the title track, which is an eight minute piece, are also pretty strong pieces. The title track is a pretty varied affair, and Kaisa’s vocals on the light sections are really beautiful. In fact there isn’t really a bad track on here one the sound of the album has had time to grow. It comes down to missing that special something again.

Overall this is a very strong album though, and it’s definitely not the worst thing Battlelore have ever made. It may not have the same impact as The Last Alliance did but what it does showcase is a lot of good ideas, especially in the atmospheric sounds of Maria Honkanen’s keyboards, which at times really make the songs on Doombound really great instead of just good. And these ideas are still heading in the right direction overall (as opposed to their 2007 offering Evernight, at which point I thought the band was running out of ideas despite a few really great tracks) and I’m confident that Doombound will be well received by established fans of Battlelore, though I will recommend several listens before passing judgement. I’m not sure that it will win them any new fans over though, so if you’re reading this and are unfamiliar with the band, I’d recommend starting with either The Last Alliance or their debut Where the Shadows Lie instead.

There also exists a special edition of Doombound which comes with a DVD which is packed with enough additional material to make Doombound much more of an essential purchase for fans of the band. There’s two features of live music, neither is very long but combined we get a total of eleven live tracks, which is actually more music on offer than on the group’s stand alone DVD release, The Journey and no track appears in both performances. There’s a nice selection from all five prior studio albums here, and it’s pretty interesting to hear some variation in the vocal parts of some of the songs, and also surprising to see Kaisa joining in with some of growled vocals on Raging Goblin, which I would consider to be Battlelore’s heaviest track. What makes this more surprising is that she actually did some growls in Storm of the Blades from Third Age of the Sun, which can be heard in the music video for the song which is included on this DVD, but on the live performance of the song Tomi does these growls.

To top the amount of live material off the band has also included all four of the music videos that they have made up until this point (Journey to Undying Lands, Storm of the Blades, House of Heroes and Third Immortal). No promo video for anything from Doombound though. There are also two tour videos and four photo galleries that are set to music. In short this is an unexpectedly huge DVD package from Battlelore. The album overall is good but a disappointment. This is not. However I am going to have to rate the album based on its standard content alone, but special/limited edition extras.

BATTLELORE Evernight

Album · 2007 · Symphonic Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
arcane-beautiful
Ok, I do like this band, but I'm not a massive fan of this band...and here's why.

These guys sound is great, it's melodic, heavy, folk influences, and has good discourse between grunts and female vocals...

But, and I'm not being too over critical, just my opinions.

Their grunts are quite weak, they have no real structure to their songs, no real chorus or hooks, and to be honest the songs drone on for ages and don't really go much places, their quite one dimensional at times.

But aside that, this album is decent enough, and it's quite short and doesn't become too overbearing.

1. House Of Heroes - The melodic riffs are amazing. The female vocals are lovely. 9/10

2. Ocean's Elysium - Some kick ass moments. Quite heavy. 8/10

3. Summon The Wolves - Quite interesting. A more symphonic side of the band. 8/10

4.We Are The Legions - A little bit more frantic. Some nice changes throughout. 8/10

5. Into The New World - Love the intro.The keyboard counter-melodies are beautiful. Great vocals. 9/10

6. Longing Horizon - Love the chours. Best song on the album (mainly because it's an actual song). 10/10

7. Mask Of Flies - Quite dark and moody. 7/10

8. The Cloak & The Dagger - A wee bit bland and way too much like the rest of the album. Filler alter. 5/10

9. Beneath The Waves - Some nice riffs throughout. 7/10

CONCLUSION: Maybe I just don't get them, but you might...

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