Emerald Shine, a fresh face on the scene hailing from the Czech Republic, has brought us their debut album, Misty Tales. This release is a concept album heavily inspired by the Lord of The Rings books by J.R.R. Tolkien, fusing elements of power and folk metal.
One of the most notable things this album does well is creating the feeling of a fantastical atmosphere that lasts from start to finish. When the opening instrumental track finishes, “Autumn Mists” straight away lets your imagination run wild as the band chant in a vaguely mythical way, before the music takes over with some very nice vocals from Leena. Sharing the vocals is Richmonde, providing a lot harsher sounding vocal work. This is where the first problem arises; the harsh vocals make it hard to understand the lyrics, something not helped by the fact that it is performed in somewhat broken English.
The variety of different instruments from tin whistles, harps, and violins to the more conventional ones, mix well to create a quite memorable sound, that despite its quick pace and unlike the vocals, never feels drowned out or poorly balanced. All of these elements come together really well in the next two songs, “Silver Riders” and “Elven King”. They manage to keep the narrative of the album moving along nicely while having both songs take a much more folk style approach with the sound.
The album does change style with tracks like “Where Life has been Ruined” and “Voice of the Muse”, where there are some black metal elements that mix surprisingly well with the stronger folk sound, which certainly keeps things fresh and interesting for the listener. The band is still able to maintain the atmosphere, with Leena impressing on vocals, and the rest of the band working as one solid unit to make “Voice of the Muse” one of the strongest songs on the album.
Another shift in style comes with the “Song of the Fallen Leaves”, a track that has much more of a ballad feel to it. The band makes it work, with its different pacing and musical structure complimenting the story beats of the album, but its placing on the tracklist maybe could have been better.
We now start coming to the end of the narrative with the appropriately named “The Time has Come”, a light-hearted harp based instrumental, which leads in nicely to the powerful, energetic “We’ll be Back”. Although slow in its build-up, this song bursts into life with the band giving it everything they have for what should have been a blistering finale. This would have made the perfect end of the album as this track would have ended things on a real highwith wanting more, always a good feeling to have when you get to the end of an album.
The album actually ends with a familiar face, “Rainy Night” from the Beneath the Stars EP from 2016. They have remixed the song to give it a more folk sound, which left me feeling a little flat after the previous track. Ending the album this way made no sense to me at all.
Emerald Shine gives a decent account of themselves with this record, their use of atmosphere and lyrical imagery is something to be commended, as is their both clean and harsh vocal work throughout. Fantasy lovers will find this a record they will really be able to sink their teeth into.
Misty Tales is out now – grab it on Amazon and support this site