Written by Dungeon Shaker
|Release Date||28 June 2019|
I love to travel, but like many, I don’t retain the financial means for frequent, extensive travel. Also, like many, I turn to art, history, literature, even folktales, to experience distant lands and cultures across time. Thus is the appeal of folk metal, at least for me. The weaving of exotic folk melodies and instrumentation into a genre of music –metal – that I love so much can itself be a cultural experience.
I was only recently introduced to Switzerland’s Battle Tales through Lè Lèjande Dè Vêr No (Tales from Our Country). The EP’s cover, albeit slightly clichéd, is strikingly gorgeous. I am always partial to high fantasy concepts rendered through traditional methods. The digital age has sadly robbed us of the potential for some great artwork, and I am glad to see that painted album covers are mounting a comeback. The dragon may be nothing more than a simple injection of high fantasy, but the medieval city set among a mountainous terrain illustrates the EP’s musical direction. Not only did this cover invite me in, but it also foreshadowed an intense musical impact.
The mark of a truly great band is the ability to employ melodies which furnish an emotion, intention, and/or concept. A common pitfall within folk metal is the clichéd over application of regional folk melodies. Battle Tales implementation of local melodies is the foundation of the band’s grandiose sound, while thankfully avoiding the aforementioned pitfall. For example, the variation of the simple recorder melody that anchors the bulk of ‘Le Lac Noir’ magnifies the song from a simple romp into a track reminiscent of early Ensiferum greatness.
The band’s sound is rooted in just that, early Ensiferum. A slight deviation from this formula is the interplay between the classical influences, namely the orchestrations and choral arrangements that are utilized to propel an epic soundscape, see ‘Othon d’Everdes.’ Whereas Ensiferum was/is more guitar driven, Battle Tales is comfortable with their more melodic charge. The guitar work while simple in its application, is relaxed when in a supporting role, which allows the band’s folk instrumentation to shine. The higher registers the guitar work adopts when at the forefront, whether that be a solo or the harmony-less Iron Maiden esque riff in ‘Le Lac Noir,’ are among the highlights of the EP.
Battle Tales, having chosen to deliver this EP solely in their native language is a rather bold statement, especially for such a young act. The absence of lyrical storytelling –at least for non-French speakers– places a heightened emphasis on the story as told through its music. The soundscapes the band crafts harken medieval imagery that accents the folklore in the storytelling. I couldn’t help losing myself in a time and place I can only dream of, even without lyrical support.
On Lè Lèjande Dè Vêr No Battle Tales delivers an EP which isn’t overly extravagant, but one that relies on well-crafted songs to tell their folk tales. Albeit a mere extended play, it has been more impactful than many full-lengths released this year. I am excited to see this band continue to develop their skills as musicians and songwriters. I am just as excited at the prospect of returning to Battle Tales’ little corner of Switzerland. Lè Lèjande Dè Vêr No is an EP I’d wager would make Jari Mäenpää circa 2004 proud. I now count myself as a fan of this band, and you owe it to yourself to join me in that fandom.
Dungeon Shaker has been an avid fan of the metal for almost two decades now. A simple journey that began with a cassette of The Black Album, has blossomed into a lifelong obsession. A lover of all genres of metal, collector of vintage (metal) vinyl, and a soon to be historian by trade. Dungeon Shaker runs his own personal blog, thunderousvoices.com, itself a menagerie of heavy metal writing.
St. Paul, Minnesota
Favorite Bands: Blue Oyster Cult, Iron Maiden, King Diamond, Tyr, Running Wild, Moonsorrow
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