As I’ve said before, Elvenking are pretty great. From their roots as power-folk they’ve moved slowly towards a rockier frontier with their previous album Red Silent Tides. Era is their next footstep in a career that has provided us with some of the best folk metal in the last decade.
Era for the most part combines elements of the previous three albums and blends them together. While I’ve been never The Scythe’s biggest fan, the heavier elements that it displayed pop up now and again, if only on the intro for The Loser and the rhythm guitars. The classic Elvenking melodies are still here in abundance, the opening notes of Through Wolf’s Eyes akin to tracks from 2006’s Winter Wake.
But what we really come to Elvenking for is the choruses. I like a good sing song as much as the next man and Era has not failed us. Midnight Skies, Winter Nights’ refrain is just about the catchiest thing on the album while combining the soft acoustic parts as well as the violent stop-start verse sections that have peppered their career. We, Animals may be a little angsty (as in, we buy our Marilyn Manson hoodies and striped tights from Hot Topic angsty) but the vocal hook is enough to let you forgive it.
Forget Me Not is the second cameo of Jon Oliva on Era, and the Savatage/TSO counterpoint device comes into play towards the end of the song, with a wonderfully melancholic harmony. Elvenking somehow manage to write positive dirges, in a possible oxymoron; whilst there is a dark brooding undertone to many of the songs, Chronicles Of A Frozen Era springs to mind, there is an overall positive message that comes through the choruses that should be sung drunk in a pub, accompanied by the soaring guitar leads.
Era is another essential Elvenking record. While it does nothing new or ground-breaking, even within the band’s own bubble, the songs are a fine addition to their library. Ophale and A Song For The People showcase the true folk element of the band, as opposed to 90% of folk metal bands who pop in a penny whistle and leave it there. Put a feather in your bardy cap, but make sure it hides your eyeliner.