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Elvenking – Reader Of The Runes – Rapture
AFM Records


Album Review: ELVENKING Reader of the Runes – Rapture

7.5 Reviewer

The Italian power/folk metal band Elvenking follows up 2019’s Reader of the RunesDivination with Reader of the Runes – Rapture, the second installment of a planned trilogy. The band had some lineup changes over the past few years, but they should be smooth transitions. Drummer Symohn returned after a five year absence, and touring guitarist HeadMatt was promoted to become a full member of the group.

The rest of the six-piece ensemble has been in the band for at least at decade. Two members, guitarist/harsh vocalist/keyboardist Aydan and lead vocalist Damna, have been in Elvenking for every studio album going back to their 2001 debut Heathenreel. Eleven albums in, the band has established a sound that’s consistent, but also with some variations from record to record.

This time around the album’s storyline of tragedy and violence pushed Elvenking to take a darker and slightly heavier musical approach. “This gave us the chance to dig deep into our extreme metal influences,” Damna reveals. “We are mainly a melodic metal band – we know that – but we feel that with this album we have set a further gold standard in what this band is able to pull off.”

Melody still exceeds extremity by a wide margin. Elvenking sets the stage for what’s to come with opener “Rapture,” the album’s longest song at just over six minutes. The epic track begins with a reserved approach before the heavy guitars kick in, augmented by symphonic atmosphere. Bombast gives way to folky influences before kicking back in with a soaring guitar solo. “The Hanging Tree” is melodic and straightforward, squarely in the power metal arena.

“Bride of Night” incorporates brief harsh vocals, but it’s actually one of the most melodic and accessible songs on the album, while the rousing “Herdchant” brings folk front and center. Spoken word and harsh vocals take a larger role on “To The North,” which gives drummer Symohn a chance to showcase his chops in the intro.

“Covenant” is a fun combination of eighties metal riffs, a folky approach and some cinematic atmosphere. Those disparate approaches actually work well together. “Red Mist” starts as a saccharine ballad before kicking in and redeeming itself with a strong second half, featuring some of Damna’s best vocals and another top-notch guitar solo.

Reader of the Runes – Rapture does lose some momentum toward the end, though some extreme moments provide a burst of energy to “An Autumn Reverie” and closer “The Repentant” throws in some black metal vibes to wrap up the song.

The band shouldered much of the production load, with help from Scott Atkins (Cradle of Filth, Behemoth), who also handled mixing and mastering duties. The production does a nice job showcasing the band’s dynamic approach, a good balance of heaviness, melody and atmosphere.

Harsh vocals are used sparingly but effectively, and personally I think increasing those a bit would make for even more variety and contrast. Still, those who enjoyed Reader of the Runes – Divination will find plenty to like with Reader of the Runes – Rapture, and it will be interesting to hear what approach Elvenking takes on the finale of the trilogy.

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