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Vesperia - An Olden Tale Award winner

Vesperia
An Olden Tale
by Erika Kuenstler at 26 March 2014, 5:55 PM

Over the past few years, there has been a surprising slew of really good Viking and Folk Metal coming from the unlikely realms of Canada. Labelling themselves as Canadian Epic Viking Metal, VESPERIA is a four-piece band started up in 2007, and who have released a full-length album, albeit under their former name of BOLERO. They have finally unleashed the anticipated follow-up album, “An Olden Tale”, an aptly named debut album under their new moniker. Just reading through the tracklisting alone gives you the feeling of following the story of a hero who embarks on ancient quest that takes him deep into foreign lands where he encounters perils and adventures before finally returning home, and it is exactly this folktale that VESPERIA have managed to bring to life through their music, immortalising the fable in its retelling.

The album is filled with one great song after another, with each of the instruments adding layer upon layer to each track’s complexity. The vocal style is surprisingly dark and heavy when compared with many of VESPERIA’s contemporaries, and this guttural style combined with the inimitable drum fills provides a good contrast to the lighter melodies that underlie it, giving rise to a well-balanced amalgamation of Death Metal and Folk/Viking Metal. The music itself is a lot less jovial and jolly than most Folk Metal, and incorporates everything from shredding to blast beats, from catchy riffs to face-melting solos, and from clean vocals to growls that even the many Death Metal vocalists would struggle to muster.

“1000 Years Ago” provides an excellent intro to the album, and starts out with a beautiful chiming sound before it swells and blooms into a more epic melody, creating an heroic atmosphere for what is to come. The title track “An Olden Tale” really is a saga of legendary proportions, with its 17 minute playtime, and it is this song that really sold me on this album. To give you an idea of what to expect, this track makes me imagine what the Jari Mäenpää era of ENSIFERUM would have sounded like if they had had Johann Hegg of AMON AMARTH as a vocalist. It is melodic yet brutal, militant yet light-hearted, primordial yet technical. In short it is a wonderfully balanced masterpiece that really shows what these four men can truly achieve. The final track is a cover of “Home for a Rest” by SPIRIT OF THE WEST; VESPERIA take this drinking anthem and turn it into ridiculously memorable bacchanale.

Perhaps my only critique of the album is that the synth has a somewhat fake sound to it, especially when compared to bands like TURISAS, who incorporate actual traditional instruments into their music. But for that, such bands typically have a larger lineup, allowing them to bring in more instruments. Nevertheless, this is an excellent album that shows that VESPERIA is certainly more than ready to join the ranks of the top global Viking Metal bands, and “An Olden Tale” should be on the wish list of everyone who likes a healthy dollop of Death in their Folk / Viking Metal. 

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. 1000 Years Ago
2. With Omens of Sorrow
3. The Swordsman
4. Forsaken Shores
5. Huntress
6. To Times End We Ride
7. Bring Me Triumph
8. An Olden Tale
9. Home For a Rest
Lineup:
Morgan Rider – Bass, Vocals, Keyboards
Cory Hofing – Drums
Frankie Caracci – Guitars, Vocals
Casey Elliot – Guitars, Vocals
Record Label: Independent
     


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