Saturday, April 26, 2014

Alvenrad - Habitat

My love of folk metal started back when I first heard Moonsorrow. Since that time I have just embraced the genre with open arms. Lately, though, it seems that the genre has become saturated with bands that just don't bring that much to the table that hasn't already been brought by bands like Moonsorrow, Borknagar, Vintersorg, Finntroll, etc. Imagine my surprise when I discovered this Dutch trio calling themselves Alvenrad. This is the most refreshing thing that has happened to folk metal and heavy metal in general in a long time. Part Borknagar, part Jethro Tull, part classic prog rock, part traditional heavy metal, this band is just an all around enjoyable band.

This band actually plays some of the best metal riffs I've heard in a while, all the while adding some classic sounding keyboards that give it that 70s prog rock feeling. The vocals are mostly clean but do have some black metal vocals placed sparsely here and there as well as some female vocals. They sing in their native Dutch so I'm not sure what they are saying but I would give my paycheck that it has something to do with nature. The opener, "Woudakoestiek," is a diverse song with crushing riffs and catchy melodies but with some hooks as well. This is one of the songs that includes the black metal vocals. The main riff is what's truly catchy about this song. It's a fast number in places but very melodic as well. The keyboards are used perfectly here to give this that aforementioned 70s feel. The second song, "Zwatwildernis," is another song that uses that keyboard sound as well as catchy riffs. The melodies are so good you would want to actually learn Dutch so you can sing along. Then in the middle of the song, they change it up, slow it down and make it sound like something straight out of the 70s. That keyboard sound is prominent on "Foreest in Tweelicht" as well but adding a black metal element along with some absolutely godly solos. I've never heard anything like this before and I am really liking this. The production on this album is absolutely brilliant as each instrument shines on it's own. Nothing is overdone or drowned out by the other. It's clean and clear making this album that much more enjoyable.

"Verweven Klauwen" sounds like it's part Jethro Tull and part Lumsk with some Vintersorg metal throw in with some crushing solos. "O Patrones" has a main piano part that sounds a lot like "Till Fjalls" by Vintersorg without ripping it off by adding it's own twists to it. They really know how to mix it up and keep you interested. If you would have asked me years ago if this formula would have worked I would have thought you were crazy...but it fucking works! "1911" is the most black metal sounding track on the album starting off with some crushing tremolo riffs, blasts, and black metal vocals. They mix it up as well with some great solos and keyboard melodies that has this song. This is a complex number that has many parts that fit together to make it an epic song even if it falls just under four and a half minutes. There is so much diversity going on with these songs but they don't come off as pretentious or to proggy. Instead the parts fall into place to keep the flow of the songs intact. The title track is just that type of song and coming in at just under six and a half minutes is the longest song on the album. There are so many elements to this song but it doesn't make you feel like you can't keep up. And the album closer, "Ondermaans,"..FINALLY a good metal ballad. I was beginning to think that metal bands forgot how to write good ballads. Beautiful acoustic guitars with some flute thrown in and an awesome solo. These guys are just great songwriters.

So here we have a debut album that does not sound like a debut album. This band has a sound all it's own and they sound like they have been doing this for years. I'm really interested in seeing what's next for this band. This band has a magic that I've not seen in a very long time. The sky's the limit for this band.


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