Kivimetsän Druidi

Shadowheart

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Female vocalists are abundant in goth metal, but there haven't been nearly as many of them in folk-metal or black metal (certainly not as of late 2008). Kivimetsän Druidi's first official full-length album, Shadowheart, however, is a rare example of a folk-metal/symphonic black metal disc that features a female lead singer. On this 2008 recording, female singer Leeni-Maria Hovila shares the lead vocal spotlight with male singer Joni Koskinen, who also contributes rhythm guitar -- and together, they provide the type of "beauty and the beast" contrast that is common in goth metal. Shadowheart, however, is not goth metal per se. Rather, the music of this Finnish band is best described as a mixture of folk-metal and symphonic black metal that incorporates elements of death metal, goth metal, power metal, and progressive metal. Hovila is the "beauty" in that "beauty and the beast" juxtaposition; she provides the clean vocals, offering an ethereal, darkly angelic, goth-minded vocal style -- and the "beast" is Koskinen, who fluctuates between black metal's wicked-sounding rasp and death metal's guttural "Cookie Monster" growl. Although Shadowheart (which contains lyrics in both English and Finnish) rocks intensely, the songs are quite melodic. Kivimetsän Druidi get a lot of melodic and harmonic inspiration from Scandinavian folk, and some of their material brings to mind the metal/humppa fusion of Finntroll (another Finnish band). Clearly, things like nuance, intricacy, and musicality are important to Kivimetsän Druidi. Shadowheart is mildly inconsistent; parts of this 53-minute CD are excellent, while other parts don't work as well. But for the most part, this is a very promising debut -- and Kivimetsän Druidi are well worth keeping an eye on. [This edition includes two bonus tracks.]

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