Album review: ELVENKING – The Pagan Manifesto

Elvenking - The Pagan Manifesto

AFM Records [Release date 12.05.14]

Hmm…folk power metal…well I do like Steeleye Span and I do like power metal so let’s see how Elvenking mix the two shall we!

Elvenking were formed back in 1997 in Northern Italy and The Pagan Manifesto is their 8th studio album following on from Era released in 2012. The band members all seem to have only name – so we have founding member Aydan on guitar plus Rafahel (guitars), Jakob (bass), Symohn (drums) and Lethien (violins). Long standing vocalist Damna is the only one who I could find a full name for, namely Davide “Damna” Moras.

“The Pagan Manifesto” kicks things off with a campfire acoustic full-on folk intro before a scream brings in the electricity. One of the high points follows – the epic King of the Elves which is 13 minutes of the whole kitchen sink.

It does however start as an absolute mess (intentional or not?) with the drummer seeming to just hit anything as fast as he can! But the song seems to pass by in a flash which is always a good sign for something of this length. As a bonus the wonderful Amanda Somerville guests during a latter female vocal only acoustic bit as well.

There are some extremely catchy numbers on here. First single Elvenlegions features the all together moment of “we are the monsters…”. Moonbeam Stone Circle brings to mind early Rhapsody with its choir-like backing vocals.

Towards the Shores brings one of Nightwish’s recent acoustic ballads to mind and Pagan Revolutions just makes you want to get up and dance. The second epic number Witches Gather brings things to a close with its atmospheric choral opening leading onto a song that constantly veers back and forth between folk and thrash…and it works.

There is an awful lot going on on here and it is to Elvenking’s credit that after a few play the melody becomes apparent and the layers reveal themselves.

To me “The Pagan Manifesto” has hints of The Levellers (prominent use of the violin) mixed with Rhapsody of Fire (everything over the top and the storytelling), Blind Guardian (power metal with occasional folky bits) and Nightwish. I will definitely be checking out some of Elvenking’s earlier releases after listening to this.

Highly enjoyable…you never really know what to expect next on this one!  ****½

Review by Phil Berisford


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