The Ring - Tales from Midgard
Scarlet Records
True Metal
10 songs (62:17)
Release year: 2004
Scarlet Records
Reviewed by Jay

Trying to become the next Manowar or Dio, The Ring releases their debut album, full of true metal homages, Norse lore and Tolkien influence. Their music is a mix of Dio-era Sabbath and Manowar with some more contemporary influences. While there is undoubtedly talent behind this band and their music, the songs need more work.

A vast majority of the songs, mainly the middle tracks on the album, have little variation from each other and seem to drone on endlessly. In some kind of attempt to reproduce Candlemass or other crunching bands, the music gets jumbled and quite frankly boring. The worst offenders have to be "Signs by the Silver Stream" and "Unite or Fall." "Halls of Doom" misses this classification despite being over nine minutes long due to an extended and impressive solo somewhere in the middle. Naturally this should not imply that the recording is of low quality. On the contrary, the production is magnificent and you can tell that this is the exact sound they were shooting for. Metallic bass and a cutting guitar tone reminiscent of when metal ruled the world in the 80’s. All the huge stadium rock gods that we came to love are remembered here.

A few of the up-tempo tracks are definitely worth a listen like the opener "In the Beginning." While it does not make you jump out of your seat and scream "metal" as the band probably intended it to, it has the most influence of the Tolkien "sound" as you will find on the album. This track, like the album in its entirety, is perfectly mixed. Voices swirling from speaker to speaker greet you at the outset and you will see that this no frills metal does have something to offer. The next track, "Gathering Darkness" draws influence from more contemporary bands like Blind Guardian. Unlike the German bards, this approach is quite no-frills. It is a do-it-yourself effort and needs a little kick in the songwriting to be more effective. Motor guitars and a good drumline power the song but again, the intangible spark of excitement is sadly a missing guest.

Closing out the album, "Last Battle" does seem to be one of the more powerful songs bringing back visions of Lizzy Borden, Anvil and Nasty Psycho to some extent. This has some real killing phrases and is more of the sound this band should attempt to go for. However, the goddamned fantasy lyrics do not aid them in any capacity here. While this is not a personal attack on The Ring, I just feel that there are entirely too many bands coming out now with a heavy emphasis on the Lord of the Rings trilogy. How much Tolkienian metal can we support? It was original a while ago, it was refreshed when Blind Guardian did it and now it is done. Please can we stop all of the blatant copying of these majestic books? Basing music on Tolkien nowadays to me does not reflect strong influence but rather a lack of creativity and imagination when writing songs for instead of coming up with original concepts, the framework for an album seems to be provided already. There are plenty of other novels, films and hell even creative video games for lyrics and themes to be based on. Needless to say, this madness should end.

Killing Songs :
Last Battle, In the Beginning
Jay quoted 65 / 100
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