Soundchecks Music Reviews

Third Age Of The Sun

Napalm Records

The limited digipack version of this release features 3 bonus tracks: Alatar-Forgotten Wizards II (one of the two 'Blue Wizards' who travelled with Saruman to the far eastern lands of Middle-Earth), Elessar's Call (the Elfstone of the house of Elendil-Aragorn's high title and surname), and Dwimmerlaik (the title of the Lord of the Nazgul - meaning 'phantom').


review by Octavio Ramos Jr

Formed in 1999, Battlelore continues to record a unique brand of epic metal inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth. Building upon the momentum of Sword's Song, Third Age Of The Sun focuses on events taking place during Middle-Earth's Third Age. According to Tolkien, the Third Age began when the last alliance between elves and men overthrew the mighty Lord Sauron. Three thousand years later, the Fellowship of the Ring successfully destroyed the One Ring, thus bringing an end to Sauron's reign of terror.

Third Age Of The Sun opens with an intro titled Usvainen Rhun, which features the alluring voice of Kaisa Jouhki, who speaks in Finnish, although the language comes across like Elvish, thanks to her mesmerising performance. Next up is Storm Of The Blades, a rousing composition featuring 'beauty and the beast' vocals, bombastic structures, and epic-driven guitars and percussion. The execution of the song makes for pure fantasy metal, particularly the female vocals. Ghan Of The Woods (referring to Ghân-buri-Ghânm, the leader of the Woses) slows things down, but also surges in intensity during the bridge by having Kaisa and male growler Tomi Mykkanen duel it out beautifully.

At times sounding medieval, Gwaith-Mirdain also taps into the folk music patterned by Korpiklaani to weave an enthralling tapestry of sound, with Maria's keyboards and flute ideally suited for Kaisa's beautiful and soulful voice. Trollshaws (the woods west of Rivendell, where Bilbo encountered three trolls in the Tolkien's The Hobbit) begins with the battering percussion of Uruk-hai warrior Henri Vahvanen, as well as a raspy and eerie voice supplied by Tomi. Both performances create a darkened track sure to impress fans of epic metal. And then there's Elves Of Luva, an enchanting ballad that features some beautiful acoustic guitar work courtesy of bards Jussi Rautio and Jyri Vahvanen.

Another rousing composition, Valier: Queens Of The Valar weaves a spell through its enthralling lyrics, narrative pace, and the music's ability to ebb and flow like a river ready to surge. Thousand Caves (referring to Thingol's caverns) and Cloaked In Her Unlight (referring to Melkor and Ungoliant) resonate with an undercurrent of malice, much of which is provided by Timo Honkanen's bass-lines and some blistering guitar riffs. Next is Of Orcs And Elves, a visual composition that uses the vocalist's performances to distinguish between the benevolence of the Elves and the malevolence of their cousins the Orcs. The music also follows suit, with the guitars and percussion switching from gentle lulls to moments of aggression to suit the mood.

Touch Of Green And Gold taps into medieval and folk music, and takes inspiration from Blackmore's Night and Nightwish. The musical rapture is extremely effective, and listeners at this point will raise a goblet filled with mead in the band's direction. Pallando: Forgotten Wizards is a pristine marching song sure to get the blood boiling, so much so that some of you may find yourselves screaming, 'where's my armour?' The closer, Gollum's Cry, perfectly captures the turmoil of this central character, with Tomi altering and twisting his voice in a performance that will leave many listeners stunned. Of all the tracks, this one captures Tolkien the best. Man, what a way to end this CD.

Fans of bands such as Blind Guardian (particularly those who enjoyed Nightfall In Middle-Earth), Nightwish, Domine (many of their songs are based on Michael Moorcock's Elric of Melnibone), Visions Of Atlantis, and Kamelot will instantly identify with Battlelore. Moreover, fans of Tolkien will be most impressed with Battlelore's careful interpretation of the Professor's world. So, what are you waiting for?

Edited by Tony Lee
for PIGASUS Press