Album: In The Heart Of Scarlet Wood
Label: Rockshot Records
Release Date: April 6, 2018
What happens when you put members from several high ranking folk and power metal bands together? Well, you get an album of medieval folk music. There’s no metal to be found here, just 47 minutes of rich Celtic folk music that evokes imagery of ethereal forest glades, and misty countryside. Shadygrove is composed of members from ‘Elvenking’, ‘Evenoire’, and ‘Sound Storm’, and are colourfully described as ‘aural archeologists that trawl eras beyond most bands’ inspirations to create music from the soul… for the soul’, if you don’t get some sort of excited curiosity from that description, you’ll probably want to move onto something else.
Normally I find when you get acts like this, folk and power metal bands doing purely folk albums that is, things tend to get very hokey, and gimmicky. But I have to say this is not so with Shadygrove, it’s obvious that quality of music and production was first and foremost on the agenda of the band. This should be an enjoyable album for metal fans getting into folk, and for those who already have dipped their toes into the medieval folk genre. So let’s move onto the review.
The first thing that hits me listening to this album is just how dense, and diverse the music is. There really isn’t a moment that doesn’t have something interesting going on, there are tons of fiddle, piano and flute melodies found throughout, however the production never feels cramped or cluttered, but rich and lush. Complimenting the melodious instruments constantly grasping at the listeners attention is a base rhythm heavy in acoustic guitars, and various percussions, tambourines, and shakers.
The star of all this is the high pitched female vocals of Lisy Stefanoni, previously vocalist of the folk metal band, ‘Evenoire’. The vocals seem to soar enchantingly over the dense instrumentals, and the light hearted lyrical content compliments the music with descriptions of magical worlds and medieval habitats. The vocals are at their strongest for the epic gang vocals the come together in chorus melodies, ‘My Silver Seal’ is one such track I’d like to point out as an especially great example.
The best way to describe this album would be to call it Celtic folk pop, while being very oriented in traditional folk styles, contemporary influences shine through tastefully. It sounds very much like the result of putting bands like ‘Blackmore’s Night’, ‘Faun’, or ‘Eluveitie’ together. One such track where the modern influence really shines through is ‘Let The candle Burn’, in which the song drives into an almost rock progression throughout the second half of the track. However these modern elements are tastefully, and masterfully blended into with traditional elements so that everything fits more than well together.
To sum everything up this is a solid release, fit for listening to for anyone entering the genre of medieval folk music, or for the those familiar with genre already. The main weakness of the album is the opening track, ‘Scarlet Wood’, in which the vocal performance is not so much to my preference, and left me with a sour taste. But don’t let the opener deter you from the rest of the album, it quickly redeems itself, and runs strong until the final song. The albums strongest point is the impressive production and arrangement behind each song, its obvious that there was a lot of work, and care put into it.
1. Scarlet Wood
2. My Silver Seal
3. The Port of Lisbon
4. Eve of Love
5. This Is The Night
7. Northern Lights
8. Let The Candle Burn
9. Queen of Amber
Total Playing Time: 47:09