Saturday, October 6, 2007

Album Review: Elffor - "From the Throne of Hate"

Elffor - From the Throne of Hate

Band: Elffor (Spain)
Album Title: From the Throne of Hate
Label: self-released
Released: 2004

From the Basque Country comes Elffor, the side project of Eöl, keyboardist of Suffering Down. From the Throne of Hate is the third Elffor album, and the first that I heard. Elffor began as a medieval ambient project, but over the course of its history has added more and more elements of black metal into the mix. From the Throne of Hate can properly be considered black metal, as it includes guitar and a greater amount of vocals than the first two albums. Still, considering that Eöl is a keyboardist, it should come as no surprise that synths dominate this album. That's just fine with me, as this is one of my favorite synth-driven metal albums.

I cannot properly describe the atmosphere this album gives off. Whenever I listen to it, I can vividly picture medieval forests and villages. I have no idea if Elffor's lyrics are about these things (all I can ever hear are short phrases like "mystic darkness" and lines about ravens). I think what gives me these mental pictures are the beautiful synths, which almost always consists of a choir sound and some strings. There are also frequent folkish passages, which gives From the Throne of Hate its unique sound. You can draw comparisons to bands like Graveland and Summoning, but Elffor maintains its own identity on this release. Sometimes the music reminds me of something familiar, like the music in medieval fantasy role-playing games on the computer. That may also explain why I picture forests and villages when I listen to Elffor.

The song titles are generic and sound more like something a Darkthrone rip-off band might come up with; however, don't let that fool you. Elffor is an ambient/black metal project of the highest quality, and deserves a wider audience than it is currently getting. I wouldn't necessarily describe it as "pagan metal," despite the fact that the t-shirt that was put out for this album definitely looks like one you'd see for a pagan band, with its runic letters, Celtic knotwork, and what appears to be a triskelion made of wolves on the back. All I can think of to call it is "medieval, symphonic ambient black metal." Judging from the few interviews I've read with Eöl, I don't feel that there's any strong pagan ideology in Elffor, anyway.

Essentially what you get with From the Throne of Hate is mostly mid-paced, synth-driven black metal, with vocals that sound like Graveland's Rob Darken. But that doesn't adequately describe the music, as the reason this album has enchanted me so much are the melodies. Whether done through the synth-choir that is used in most of the metal passages, or the synthesized flutes, woodwinds, and other instruments in the softer, folkish passages, there are many memorable and addicting melodies on this album. I even love the two instrumental tracks. There's a certain melody that is brought up frequently on the album, which binds the album together into a cohesive whole.

The fact that From the Throne of Hate is self-released and limited to 500 copies (though it looks like a re-release is in the future) is something that makes me kind of sad, as this is one of my favorite albums, and one that I have played probably more than any metal album in my collection. It may be very difficult to track down as a result (I had to buy mine off of Ebay, and that was two years ago), but it's well worth buying if you enjoy this style of music.

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