Red Silent Tides
17 September 2010
by Tom Dare
It’s not always easy being a fan of power metal. There’s a tired old line that gets thrown around in the UK- that it’s basically just Europop with distortion and bass drum kicks aimed at perpetually adolescent Dungeons & Dragons enthusiasts. While this is obviously patently untrue in every way (ahem), Elvenking appear to be doing everything in their power to prove this theory.
Elvenking started out as a fairly orthodox power metal band that began incorporating folk metal elements, and it seemed to help them stay fresh and avoid running out of ideas. For some odd reason, they have chosen to dramatically scale back those folky bits on Red Silent Tides, and unsurprisingly sound like they are suffering somewhat with a lack of ideas. That’s not the whole story, however.
Power metal is called that for a reason. Just as black metal lives and dies by its ability to convey an almost palpable sense of evil and hardcore either has furious aggression or falls flat on its arse, power metal must have a dramatic atmosphere. Be it camp heroism or brooding melancholy, the emotion must come across in full or it will fail. Red Silent Tides never quite manages to fully connect, and at that point the raw music can never make its mark, even if it is as competent as here.
There are examples of strong vocal hooks, decent riffs and engaging melodies. ‘Runereader’ has all three in large doses, and the rapid attack of ‘Your Heroes Are Dead’ has all the energy and balls music demands. Yet even here something feels missing. This can be put down in part to the low level of the instruments in the mix – the vocals are a touch too high, pushing everything else into the background.
This is compounded by one or two moments that do simply sound like cheesy continental pop music that someone is playing metal guitar and drums over, most noticeably the overly saccharine introduction to ‘The Last Hour’. Once again, the overly prominent vocals in the mix do not help this. The problem is not the level of cheese – there are far cheesier peers of Elvenking who don’t suffer this problem – more of the type. You might say that they should have used brie (the Chateau de Rhapsody Of Fire variety, perhaps) and ended up using Stilton instead, and the desired flavour is not what is achieved.
Watch the video to ‘The Cabal’ by Elvenking here:
Red Silent Tides never quite grabs hold of the ear and is weighed down by one too many problems, not least among them those moments that are so sugary they sound like they could be sung on The X Factor if you simply rewrote the lyrics. There are records which can be used in power metal’s case to be taken seriously, to display that it is as genuine, intense and credible as any of the metal subgenres that routinely fill 4000+ capacity venues across the UK. This is absolutely not it.
Sounds like: Firewind meets Aqua.
Top tracks: Runereader, Your Heroes Are Dead
Elvenking – Red Silent Tides tracklisting
The Last Hour
Silence De Mort
Your Heroes Are Dead
This Nightmare Will Never End
What’s Left Of Me
The Play Of The Leaves