Of the thirty-eight times they have entered the competition, Italy have won the Eurovision Song Contest twice. Their first win was way back in 1964 with Gigliola Cinquetti’s ‘Non ho l’età’, the next being in 1990 with ‘Insieme: 1992’ by Toto Cutugno. Incidentally, Ireland have won the contest seven times, more than any other country, and hold the record for the most consecutive wins at three; 1992, 1993 and 1994. The most popular contestant was Sweden’s ABBA in 1974.
“This is all very interesting, Ryan,” I hear you say, “and I admire yet recoil from your awesome knowledge of the Eurovision Song Contest, but what does it have to do with the latest Elvenking album?”
If Italy were to enter the likes of Elvenking into the Eurovision Song Contest, they would certainly have a much better chance of winning. Whilst listening to Red Silent Tides, I couldn’t help but think that the vocal hooks and guitar melodies would be right at home in the annual competition. Take that how you will. The first two songs especially, ‘Dawnmelting’ and ‘The Last Hour’, would be high scorers; they are quite easily the catchiest things to escape my stereo this year.
Elvenking are well known for their folk metal compositions but on this, their sixth studio album, they make a surprising departure from that sound. Don’t expect any flutes or prolonged use of acoustic guitars or even the mystical female vocals – this is a straight-up power metal record with stadium-sized anthems.
To return to the point about a certain well known European musical contest, this is perhaps the album’s major pitfall. Everything is just so damned polite. The guitars step back courteously, allowing the vocals to take centre stage, whilst the drums follow like a loyal dog, taking little initiative. It’s all very predictable and it seems like the keyboards and violins have been reserved for atmospherics only. ‘Runereader’ and ‘Your Heroes are Dead’ are the only compositions that truly bristle with energy and spontaneity, and they are standout tracks for this very reason.
That said, the lack of musical curveballs is only a minor gripe, as the band are clearly on to a winning formula. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.