Battlelore is back after more than ten years of absence.
Created in 1999 in Finland, the band composed of Jyri « Moredhel » Vahvanen (guitar, Byron, Fimir, ex-Church of Void, ex-Horna), Henri Vahvanen (drums), Maria Honkanen (keyboards/flute), Kaisa Jouhki (vocals), Jussi Rautio (guitar, Jonne, Oceanwake), Timo Honkanen (bass, Dark Elite), and Tomi Mykkänen (vocals, Evemaster) offered us six albums before taking a break in 2011. The band came back in 2016, then announces The Return Of The Shadow for 2022, on Napalm Records.
The album starts with Minas Morgul, an epic composition with effective riffs which immediately brings us back to the band’s catchy universe. The majestic keyboards shrouds us before letting the vocalists place their voices, screams and choruses in this motivating basis, just like on Chambers of Fire and its darker but equally catchy atmosphere. The track is very contracted between the warlike screams and the softer parts, while the Symphonic and melodic influences reappear on the heady Orcrist, a composition that remains quite raw at times while flooding us with its soothing sweetness. A sampled voice comes to help us understand the story in which we evolve, then the group resumes its charge which drives us to Homecoming, a rather haunting but very heady track. The band places this vocal duality on the motivating sound of the rhythmic, then Elvenking will make us dive again in a dark and sometimes a little groovy atmosphere. The two voices easily lull and mesmerize us while exposing us to this more raw reality, while the sound becomes more aggressive for Firekeeper, a track that also shows a lot of contrast between the imposing rhythmic and the softer but worrying parts. The track ends with airy leads and heavy vocal parts before Mirrormere places more Prog and complex influences in this epic base. The piercing leads know how to give way to the vocals, then the band leads us to the dark True Dragons and its heavy riffs that perfectly transcribe the half epic, half tragic atmosphere. The album ends with Shadow of the East, a composition that is dissonant but also very imposing and majestic, before dying in a last melody.
But the Finns aren’t done with us yet, since they still have three tracks, composed shortly after their break, and which are announced as quite different from the rest, the Lost Lands EP. Indeed, Avathar quickly shows it quickly with these clear sounds that contrast enormously with the more raw parts like the rocky vocals, as well as the moments where the two universes meet. The contrasting sound is revealed again with Caves of the Forgotten, a rather soft and catchy track, which will strengthen on the last part to offer us a gripping intensity, just before leaving us with Isenmouthe, the last track, which places the Power Metal influences forward in this rhythmic overlaid by warlike screams. The track will also place more catchy elements or reveal us a heady quietude, then it will end on these solid sounds.
The absence of Battlelore was noticed, and its return will be too. The band has kept the same roots for the creation of The Return Of The Shadow, an epic album that knows how to reveal dark shades when the event requires it.