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 Queensrÿche 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.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson