Tolkien metal? Laugh you may, but the music of Finland's Battlelore is no laughing matter. Battlelore is the only band that is able to use the official names of Middle Earth characters and locations from the Lord of the Rings book series, and they even go so far as to use costumes that look identical to those worn by the actors in the movies directed by Peter Jackson. Third Age of the Sun is the bands third release, and their symphonic brand of power/progressive/death/fantasy metal is in full force here. In fact, this album is so damn orchestral in nature, and contains so many moments of chilling atmosphere as well as bombast, that it really isn't fair to categorize it as an extreme metal album. Sure, the vocals of Tomi Mykkanen are straight out of the death metal camp, and he tears it up on "Trollshaws", but in most spots as well as on this tune, his growls are tempered by the angelic vocals of Kaisa Jouhki. Kaisa has a lovely voice, and mixed with Mykkanen's gutteral style makes for an almost "good vs. evil" set-up.
"Elves of Luva" is a haunting piece, with lilting guitar chords and Kaisa's passionate vocal delivery, and at the other end of the spectrum is the crushing & metallic "Valier-Queens of the Valar", which sees the two-guitar attack of Jussi Rautio and Jyri Vahvanen laying down a huge wall of guitar power opposite the symphonic keyboards of Maria. It's also on this piece that the male death and female clean vocals work really well off each other. Other highlights include the majestic gothic death metal of "Thousand Caves", the driving orchestral metal of "Of Orcs and Elves" (my favorite piece, and a great vehicle for the raging death vocals of Mykkanen), and the complex prog-metal of "Touch of Green and Gold".
Honestly, if you are a fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, you will get a kick out of this CD. If you're not, but you dig symphonic fantasy metal that features plenty of vocal styles, huge guitar riffs, and orchestral keyboards, then Third Age of the Sun will find regular rotation in your CD changer.
1) Usvainen Rhun
2) Storm Of The Blades
3) Ghan Of The Woods
6) Elves Of Luva
7) Valier - Queens Of The Valar
8) Thousand Caves
9) Cloaked In Her Unlight
10) Of Orcs And Elves
11) Touch Of Green And Gold
12) Pallando - Forgotten Wizards I
13) Gollum's Cry