The Winter's Wake

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Even in the 21st century, there are still some older folk purists who believe that Bob Dylan committed musical heresy when he went electric in the mid-'60s, and if those stodgy ├╝ber-purists still have a problem with Highway 61 Revisited after all these years, one can only imagine the convulsions and violent seizures they would experience upon hearing the way that a power metal revival/prog metal outfit like Italy's Elvenking liberally incorporate European folk on their third official full-length album, Winter's Wake. Elvenking certainly aren't the only power/prog headbangers with a folk influence, but Euro-folk isn't a mere afterthought for these paisans. it is an integral part of what they do on this album, which shows a strong awareness of medieval, Celtic, British, and Scandinavian folk but without sacrificing the loudness and bravado that power metal is known for. This is a CD that, creatively, is indebted to bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Manowar, Fates Warning, and Queensr├┐che but still has some things in common with Jethro Tull. Paradoxically, Elvenking manage to offer arrogance and enchantment at the same time; that might sound like a contradiction, but Elvenking pull it off. One thing that they don't offer, however, is introspection, which has been a main ingredient of so much alt-rock (including alt metal) in a post-Nevermind, post-Nirvana world. Winter's Wake has the sort of larger-than-life quality that characterized a great deal of metal, hard rock, and arena rock back in the '70s and '80s, but unlike all the punk-drenched, hip-hop-loving alt-rock and alt metal discs that claim to be "keepin' it real," Winter's Wake doesn't pretend to provide anything other than escapism and pure fantasy. The power metal revival field is extremely crowded in Europe, but Elvenking is a cut above much of the competition on this memorable release.

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