Published on December 16th, 2017 | by Justin G.
Elvenking: Secrets of the Magick Grimiore (AFM)
I realize “Elvenking tries something a bit different here” is pretty much the last thing fans of the Italian folk/power metal band want to read about a new Elvenking album, but in this case, it may be a positive development. The band did their share of experimenting, which alientated some fans, but managed to return to form on recent efforts Era and The Pagan Manifesto, which hearkend back to the classic Heathenreel sound. With their ninth studio album, titled Secrets of the Magick Grimiore, the band members felt the need to spread their wings, and the results are very impressive.
Secrets of the Magick Grimiore is still very much a “proper” Elvenking album, walking the line between folk and power metal and featuring the signature violin sounds, folk melodies and of course Damna’s unique vocals. Everything is bigger and more epic this time around though. The songs share conceptual elements (the themes of magic and spells), and there are more symphonic elements. There are also some guest voices adding some variety to things, namely Snowy Shaw (Dream Evil, Therion), Angus Norder (Witchery) adding some growls and female vocals by Elisabetta Furlanetto. DGM’s Simone Mularoni produced, mixed and mastered the album (and what seems to be every Italian power metal album this year).
It’s not exactly Elvenking gone Therion, but Secrets of the Magick Grimiore is a step towards the kind of symphonic metal Kamelot and Damnation Angels do, and that ends up working really well alongside their folk/power metal approach. You hear it best on songs like opening track “Invoking the Woodland Spirit” and “The Wolves Will Be Howling Your Name.” “The Horned Goat and the Sorcerer” and “At the Court of the Wild Hunt” also perfectly capture this album’s spirit, and “3 Ways to Magick” is almost a Heathenreel song given huge backing choruses.
Elvenking could have taken the easy path and served up The Pagan Manifesto Part 2. Instead they got ambitious without alienating their existing fans, and the result is a very strong, much more memorable Elvenking album. The symphonic metal sound suits them very well, and their songwriting approach gave these songs plenty of staying power. Aside from the handful of fans who only want Heathenreel copies (or those that can’t handle the occasional growled/screamed vocals), it’s hard to see Elvenking fans not loving this album. Secrets of the Magick Grimiore also makes a great starting point for newcomers.
Edition Notes: The limited edition CD version of Secrets of the Magick Grimiore comes in a digipack and includes four bonus tracks. Three are region-specific bonus tracks from previous albums, and one – “Skywards” – is previously unreleased. The LP version of the album also has these tracks.
Summary: A more symphonic Elvenking is a very good thing.