For over a decade axes and swords have lain dormant, but now Finnish fantasy heavy metal warriors Battlelore are back with their Middle-earth inspired album The Return Of The Shadow.
Consisting of twelve tracks in total including the Lost Lands EP, Battlelore’s latest offering was too good of an opportunity to pass on. Take for instance the track listing, it could easily read as a chapter list in any of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien’s work. Opener and leading the charge “Minas Morgul” is full of heart-pumping riffs, sweeping solos and a varying vocal styles that make an immediate impact.
The formula continues with “Chambers of Fire” with an added symphonic element that works with the band’s aesthetic and subject matter. The piano-laden start to “Orcist” is an absolute joy and the more I hear Kaisa Jouhki’s vocal the more this album is appealing to me. If you include the storytelling aspect midway through it’s hard not to count it as highlight track of the album.
Harmonies engulf “Homecoming” whilst “Elvenking” is a real throwback to the Battlelore of old, but then up steps “Firekeeper”. This is the best track on The Return Of The Shadow as it takes all the best parts of the album and moulded it into a singular offering. After that “Mirrormere” still manages to keep the listener engaged and had me already thinking about revisiting the band’s back catalogue.
The heaviest track of the album “True Dragons” still manages at times to sweep in with multiple layers. The final chapter “Shadow of the East” ends up completing the album perfectly. Included in the release is the Lost Lands EP – three songs written and recorded at the start of the band’s hiatus that, soundwise, are different from the tracks on the main album: “Avathar”, “Caves of the Forgotten” and “Isenmouthe”
A fantastic reincarnation crammed full of anecdotes.
The Return Of The Shadow is out now