Published on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 17:47
Album title: The Force Of The Ancient Land
Release date: 23 February 2016
01. Spirit Of The North
02. Winter Night
03. Travel In Woods
04. From Life To Spirit
05. Valkyrjur Ancient Ones
06. The Border Of Eldamar
07. Galađwen The Eldar
08. New Beginning
"Through time and space, a spirit that won't show face. The living man will feel, but the spirit do not kneel."
Those of you who are obsessed with J.R.R Tolkien, Heathenism, Elven magic and nature, here's a musical score for your fantasy journeys, created by a Norwegian newcommer to the scene Mathias Hemmingby, who hides behind the name Eldamar. Eldamar is a solo project that started his journey last year, and yes, The Force Of The Ancient Land is a debut album with more than 70 (!) minutes of atmospheric, folkish and epic black metal or partially even so called metalgaze, somehow in the vein of Caladan Brood and Lustre, but it could appeal also to those who are digging up acts such are the masters of epicness Summoning, Midnight Odyssey and Windir to name a few. I can say that the band did create somehow an unique work of art already on this debut album, but hand on heart Eldamar's debut has some flaws.
The soundscapes are truly cinematic, in a way magical, everything is based on melodic elongated yet catchy simple guitar riffs, but with a huge utilisation of keyboards that create some stunning ambiances. The necessary heaviness and ferocity is brought into the picture with churning pounding yet quite simplistic drums and strong but mellow bass lines. There are almost no lyrics, except for few spoken sentences. Vocals are used like an additional instrument to create an additional dimension, mostly you'll hear only female ethereal voices, "aaaahhhs" and "ooohhhsss", that are here and there interrupted by some well excecuted shrieks.
Almost everything that this album actually offers is heard already in the epic 14 minutes long captivating opener "Spirit Of The North". It grabs your soul in an instant and takes your mind on a journey through mystical lands, but unfortunatelly the rest of the songs on this album are more or less just a repetition of this, thus far following the same formula, except for those "short", around four minutes long more ambiental interludes like it's sublime "Travel In The Woods", ambiental dreamy "Valkyrjur Ancient Ones" and sparkling piano driven "Galađwen The Eldar". There are some great moments as well in other songs, for example "From Life To Spirit" enthuses with its heaviness, or "The Border Of Eldamar" filled with mesmerizing magical melancholic dreamy melodies, sparkly solemn synths and folkish acoustic insertions, is nothing but a masterpiece. As well I can't forget to mention some well inserted classical symphonic elements in "Winter Night" for example, but what the heck if sooner or later the thing becomes monotone and dull with too much utilisation of one and the same vocal lines and similar atmospheric synths all over.
I'm welcoming Mathias's idea of using this kind of a vocal approach, it certainly is quite an unique one, but he should really work on preventing it to became so perennial. As well I miss kind of a tension inside some of the songs, even though this multilayered sound is quite dense, the compositions could be just a bit more adventurous and slowly building up some kind of a climax. Eldamar manages to do that here and there, but the lenght of this album prevents the listener to fully embrace it. No matter what, The Force Of The Ancient Land is a good album, it has the power to take you on a mystical journey, it needs some time to be fully grasped, but still I recommend listening to one or two songs at time, otherwise it loses its magical appeal and character.
Review written by: T.V.