Review Summary: Folk Metal with Death and Black metal vocals.
Ithilien is a Belgium folk metal band. If you are a fan of Lord Of The Rings, this name will ring a bell as this is a region and fiefdom of Gondor, located near Mordor. But the band gives a different meaning of their name. They say that when earth and sky were one, a creature named Ithilien was born and its only purpose was to destroy mankind. A band of warriors decided to fight this monster and named themselves « The hunters of Ithilien ». This record tells their story. Formed in 2005, the band has been through a few lineup changes before reaching success in the European metal scene in 2011, year in which their lineup became stable. They have released one EP in 2011 and their record From Ashes To The Frozen Land
was released in 2013.
Before mixing Folk and Metal, Ithilien shows us that they can do both of these genres perfectly. While the first song "Battlecry" acts as a folk intro, the second song "Unleashed" is a fast tempo metal song. Vocals range between Black Metal screams to Death Metal growls but the riffs stay in the metal genre, although being aggressive at times. Their folk instruments consist of Bagpipes, Hurdy Gurdy, Whistle and keyboards. Their entire record is built around the alternation of heavy metal songs and more atmospheric sounds ("Sealed Destiny", "Stare Into The Deep", "Northern Light"). The production isn’t perfect but far from bad. In fact it adds to the general atmosphere making it sound epic.
What’s likeable with this band is that although many folk metal bands sound cheesy and sometimes are too much on an easy listens, this band made the perfect combination of aggressive metal and folk. "Reckless Child" is the perfect example of this combination, being one of the highlights of this record. Like many bands in this genre, Ithilien has a song that talks about alcohol. "Drinkin’ Song" is the perfect upbeat song that makes you want to drink a beer while screaming the lyrics.
What brings this album down is the lack of different riffs in the 60 minutes length of the album. After you’ve heard the first half of the album, the last songs aren’t very different from one another. With songs never under four minutes ("Battlecry" acting as an introduction), this can bore you. What keeps you curious until the end is the story told through the entire record, The Hunters of Ithilien and their battles against the evil creature.
Although lacking in diversity, From Ashes To The Frozen Land
is one hell of a record. If you are a fan of Folk Metal then this definitely a must have. They are a band that I look forward for another record, and made me curious as to how their next record will sound.