Sunday, September 14, 2014

ElvenStorm - Blood Leads to Glory

It seems that in this day and age, the thought of a female fronted metal band brings to mind bands like Nightwish or Epica...symphonic metal with opera type vocals. However, back in the day a female fronted metal band brought to mind bands like Warlock, Hellion, Chastain, etc. ElvenStorm is a band that nods to the old school of female fronted heavy metal. I found this band while looking at the Facebook page of a similar band, Crystal Viper. Formed in 2008 this French quartet's second full length, Blood Leads to Glory, is an all out heavy metal assault that can stand up to any of the more established metal bands, female fronted or not. They also pay homage to the real female fronted metal from days gone by.

Now one would be amiss if they did a review of this album and not mentioned the obvious German power metal influence that seems to be all over this album. And the reasons for this comparison could be that the album was produced by Lars Ramcke of Stormwarrior and mastered by none other than the great Piet Sielck of Iron Savior fame. The appearance of these two help give this album a sound that just reeks of fist pumping, horns high heavy metal. After the intro, the first proper song, "Reign in Glory," lets you know that this band means business. Even though they are from France, this band plays German style speed/power metal and this song is a prime example of their ability to kick your ass with speed and aggression but still have those infectious melodies that the genre is known for. Imagine Stormwarrior with Doro Pesch or Marta Gabriel (Crystal Viper) singing. But they are much more than that as their own ideas show brightly on this album. Vocalist Laura Ferreux has the perfect metal voice. It seems that in places she is holding back but all in all she can hold her head high because she can stand side by side with the aforementioned ladies any day.

"Werewolves of the East" is another song that is loaded with speed, melody, and speed metal riffs galore. The soloing on this song, as well as the rest of the album, is just amazing. The dual leads and the lead riffing just add that touch that makes this type of metal so enjoying. The melodies that are produced by this style of playing are, as I said, infectious. "Temple of the Sun" is more of a mid paced rocker that slows the tempo down a bit but makes it no less metal. This song has some excellent riffs and melodies. Ms. Ferreux shines a bit more here and gives a powerful performance. This may be the "weak" song on the album but only because it relies too much on the melodies. It's not a weak track, it's just not as strong as some of the others, that in no way makes it a skipper or a throwaway. I also previously mentioned Marta Gabriel and her band Crystal Viper. Well she guests on the album lending her powerful voice to "Mistress From Hell." The title of that song says it all. This song will make you get out your metal studded wrist bands and throw horns high!

"Where Angels Dare to Die" is the band gong into epic territory for this one...and they do it well. The song is just over six minutes but there is never a dull moment in the song. It begins with slight intro section that just screams epic. After that it's mid paced with some kick ass riffing and some lead riffs adding melody. There is a riff that kinda reminds me of "For Whom the Bell Tolls" in there but all in all this just rocks. It slows down a bit in the middle only to lead up to the solo part that just gives me the chills. This shows that this band is capable of melding speed metal with traditional and epic metal without it sounding forced. Then a song like "Fallen one" just slay with an all out speed metal assault with massive riffs and screaming solos. "Sirens of Death" is another of those kick ass speed metal songs that has all the ingredients, including the gang shouted background vocals. The song slows down a bit in the middle with some cool riffing on the bridge leading to a massive solo. As I said, Ms. Ferreux sounds like she is holding back in places but not on the bonus track, Into The Fire", which is a Savage Grace cover. Here she lets loose and shows her range. It's a great cover and the band shows where their influences lie.

So the next time you think of female fronted metal, maybe you should remember that there is much more out there than the goth metal fronted opera singers. This is proof that there are still female metal singers that actually sing metal. This is an album that took me by surprise because I was not expecting it to be this good. I'm looking forward to what the future might bring this talented band. Horns up, this is essential.


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