The Scythe

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Elvenking celebrated their tenth anniversary in 2007, a year that found the Italian band moving in a decidedly heavier direction. The Scythe, which was recorded in 2006 and 2007, is clearly louder and more forceful than any of Elvenking's previous releases; play this 55-minute CD right after listening to their 2006 release Winter's Wake, and it is impossible to miss the fact that Elvenking was determined to rock a lot harder on The Scythe (which boasts guest solos by guitarist Mike Wead of Candlemass and King Diamond fame). Elvenking still favors a mixture of power metal, folk metal and progressive metal; they're still melodic and nuanced and still include violins, but this time, the band is noticeably thrashier and has more of a punk edge. Although stylistic comparisons to Iron Maiden, Manowar, Judas Priest, and Queensr├┐che are still quite valid, there are times when The Scythe shows some awareness of thrashers like Megadeth and early Metallica (which is not a tremendously radical move on Elvenking's part because thrash metal came out of power metal: one could easily argue that early thrash was basically power metal with faster tempos and a healthy appreciation of punk). But while many '80s thrash bands favored a streetwise toughness and a keeping-it-real outlook (Anthrax, for example, was one of the first metal bands to incorporate hip-hop), The Scythe is -- like previous Elvenking discs -- an exercise in pure, unadulterated fantasy; on The Scythe, Elvenking's evolution is musical rather than lyrical. Elvenking's heavier direction has been a source of debate among their fans; some have reacted more favorably than others. Winter's Wake is more essential and more consistent, but overall, The Scythe is a decent outing from these Italian headbangers.

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