Elvenking’s ninth album, “Secrets of the Magick Grimoire” delves into folk and symphonic metal with some neo-pagan influences. The album demonstrates Elvenking’s proficiency as a band, and while it doesn’t bring much new to the table, the familiar is blended with a remixing of well worn musical tropes. Through the album, you’ll hear a mix of power metal, orchestral arrangements, folksy riffs and breakdowns, and a mix of vocal techniques, from choirs to gang vocals to harsh vocals doubling clean vocal lines, creating a great deal of variety on the album.
One of my favorite elements of the album is how often a song will run a chorus or a melody through multiple iterations in different styles. For example, you’ll hear a melody first in a straightforward metal fashion and then again with paired down folk instrumentation, and finally with a blend of the two. Granted, this is nothing new in the world of folk and symphonic metal, but it’s very well executed here.
Looking back though, it’s hard to find too many standout tracks, as it turns into, “Is that the one with the black metal bit on the bridge? Or the death metal bit on the chorus?” or “Is that the one that does the violin thing first and then the flute, or the flute first then the violin?” While there are many excellent passages, probably my biggest critique ends up being that very few are particularly memorable.
Continuing from their last album, the lyrical themes cover a range of fantasy tropes mixed with the sort of neo-pagan imagery that’s become more popular among European metal bands of late. I suppose it is a bit refreshing to put aside the typical D&D campaign of a fantasy-themed power metal album and trade it for something a little bit darker and more mysterious.
At the same time, in the last couple years, it seems that we’ve just replaced traditional fantasy themes with ones more rooted in Celtic or ancient Germanic folklore. If the trend is to use older, more foundational myths over more modern ones, I’m looking forward to genre lyrics working their way backward now, through Roman and Greek myths, and tracing civilizations roots back to the earliest folklore and myths coming out of Mesopotamia and North Africa.
Overall, “Secrets of the Magick Grimoire” proved to be a bit of a grower. I had several drafts of this review over several weeks of having the album in and out of rotation, and each subsequent draft removed negative feelings and replaced them with positive ones. It’s a solid album and one where the band demonstrates growth and evolution from their previous work. If power metal overlaid with symphonic elements and chanting choirs is what gets you up in the morning, you’re sure to enjoy “Secrets of the Magick Grimoire.”
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