Elvenking - Two Tragedy Poets (... and a Caravan of Weird Figures)
AFM Records
Folk Metal
12 songs (43'08")
Release year: 2008
Elvenking, AFM Records
Reviewed by Alex

It could be I am not the best person to review Elvenking. After all, this Italian band has a rabid fanbase, even among the readers of this site, which follows every album, every lineup move, be it the departure or return of the lead vocalist Damnagoras (now shortened to Damna). I can’t possibly consider myself in the ranks of the faithful, having taken only very random and sporadic listens of Elvenking’s earlier output. On the other hand, I am completely removed from the drama, having never foamed at the mouth listening to Heathenreel, Wyrd or The Winter Wake, but also having never castigated the band for The Scythe. I am very much an unbiased bystander. For me, Two Tragedy Poets (… And a Caravan of Weird Figures) is just another album, not the most wanted return to form, or the album “which we owed to ourselves to make”. Unencumbered with such baggage, I could openly enjoy this vivacious rock album full of folk references and refreshing acoustic execution.

To slice it roughly, there are definitely several rather distinct song groups on the album. Intro The Caravan of Weird Figures, Another Awful Hobs Tale, Ask a Silly Question and Not My Final Song are raucous and rebellious Celtic influenced tunes, full of obligatory kick and spunk, with prominent violin, made for foot taps and sing along. Reminiscent of Penny Dreadful from Skyclad’s Irrational Anthems, these songs really make you question whether Elvenking hail from Italy, their Irish/Celtic outbursts feeling so authentic. The use of Irish bouzouki, tin whistle and Uilleann pipes help, but I can’t help but wonder if Elvenking count among their ancestors some of those poor Celts and Picts Caesar’s legions brought to Italy after their conquest of Britain. Some other rockers from Two Tragedy Poets have less of this folk character, but make absolutely sure you won’t be able to dislodge their main chorus’ hook out of your body (From Blood to Stone, Miss Conception). To this group the acoustic re-recordings of The Winter Wake and The Wanderer must belong as well, perhaps giving the glimpse as to how these songs came to be in the first place, with guys jamming some awfully melodic chords on the acoustic guitar.

Acoustic, by Elvenking, at least on this album, does not mean MTV unplugged, quiet crooning by the microphone, without drums. Acoustic, by Elvenking, means plenty of rocking chops, with clean sounding guitars showing very little distortion, letting all of those “weird figures” instruments, most notably violin, shine through. And as such, Belinda Nowles cover Heaven is a Place on Earth, a peculiar choice elsewhere, seems at home on this album.

Thinking that twelve straight rockers would have been tough to bear for an average fan, Elvenking threw in an underdeveloped piano/violin short ballad She Lives at Dawn and the quiet bard melancholy-by-the-fire My Own Spider’s Web. I could have lived without them, but others might prefer a softer break in the action.

Meaningful tongue-in-cheek lyrics complete the picture on this boisterous album, which has the most appeal in its immediate nature. There is going to be little “getting into” Two Tragedy Poets. Just like instant coffee, this one either going to be a hit or a total miss with many a listener, be it the Elvenking life-long fan or that casual passerby.

Killing Songs :
Another Awful Hobs Tale, From Blood to Stone, The Winter Wake
Alex quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Elvenking that we have reviewed:
Elvenking - The Pagan Manifesto reviewed by Joel and quoted 85 / 100
Elvenking - Era reviewed by Olivier and quoted 80 / 100
Elvenking - Red Silent Tides reviewed by Khelek and quoted 69 / 100
Elvenking - The Scythe reviewed by Marty and quoted 69 / 100
Elvenking - The Winter Wake reviewed by Marty and quoted 86 / 100
To see all 8 reviews click here
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