Elmsfire are a new one on us, despite being around since 1999 and playing live since 2003. Given they’re German and their home country has a huge number of metal bands, it’s not surprising that they may have been lost in the pile. Wings of Reckoning is their third album and showcases their traditional / melodic metal influences.
Their bio says that they base most of their lyrics in classic literature and “mysticism” which is familiar and rich territory for metal acts. Check out “Croghan” (track 3) below for a sample, all swords and sorcery and cutting people into bits and melting them down. Cool. It’s the first really strong track on the album, after a quick intro followed by “Camazotz” that didn’t really grab me.
“Maelstrom” maintains the higher standard and is very Priest-influenced (no bad thing) with some cracking simply riffs and chugging rhythms. Following another spoken word scene-setter, “Harlock” probably take podium place as the top track on the album. It’s heavy, yet melodic and definitely the catchiest song here. “Leviathan” is typically downtuned and slower as the name would suggest, and the band continue down this path with “Killer of Giants” which brings in the clean guitar and near-ballad style. It’s always good to mix things up on an album so you don’t end up with ten tracks the same and this song stands out very much as the most individual. Great guitar solo towards the end as well.
I enjoyed the mild pummelling of “Drop Dead”, and “Crionics” really gave the air guitar muscles a workout with some great riffage. Maybe this is my favourite track. Hmm. Vaguely reminiscent of Maiden’s “Phantom of the Opera”, but that’s never going to be a bad thing.
Of the fourteen tracks on Wings of Reckoning, two are atmospheric scene-setters leaving us with twelve actual pieces of music. The quality varies a little and my main criticism is that the vocals need more punch – they’re a little airy and echoey, which is a shame as the singer sounds pretty good. While it’s not a classic album, it is an album of classical metal in terms of style and there are some really good individual songs on here. There’s no hiding the influential acts who have helped shape Elmsfire’s sound, and why should there be? This album is as much a homage to these bands as it is an original work.
Enjoyable, and enough to get me looking out their first two albums to see how their sound has developed over the last decade.
Wings of Reckoning is out on September 25th