Conorach – Through The Ages
Conorach – Through The Ages (2014)
Reviewed by Evan Barnes
While folk metal in general continues to grow in popularity (and in gimmickry), so too does folk-related power metal. But as often happens when a certain style becomes saturated with bands all doing their own take on a certain formula, it can be difficult to pick out the ones that actually manage to offer something of their own while not sounding overly generic. Still, some bands manage to rise above the rest and offer something truly worthy of the high standards set by bands such as Elvenking and Falconer.
Conorach is one such band. Already with one full-length album under its belt (2008’s Tales From The Tavern), these Dutchmen return with a vengeance on their sophomore effort Through The Ages. Conorach has been described by some as the Netherlands’ answer to Falconer, and I can’t help but think the comparison is quite apt. Conorach utilizes medieval melodies, melodic riffing, and occasional folk instrumentation to augment its power metal foundation, much like Falconer. Also much like Falconer, this band writes about medieval history and folk tales, though in this case the lyrical subjects concern Dutch (and occasionally English) lore.
But Conorach is not simply a Falconer carbon copy. At its core, Conorach is much more in line with traditional European power metal stylings than Falconer is. Vocalist Jacco de Wijs reminds me of a more competent George Charalambous (Winter’s Verge). He’s certainly not the best singer out there, and at times he sounds like he lacks some confidence, especially on the earlier tracks on the album, but he exhibits a mid-range tenor voice that is easily understandable without needing a lyrics book in front of you, which is rather refreshing.
There’s a good mix of material here, both lyrically and musically. Conorach writes just as many, if not more, bardic medieval fantasy tales than it does historical songs. The latter are also present however, namely “To Rule Them All”, which is written from the perspective of the Saxon King Alfred about holding off a viking invasion. Musically the album varies between fast straightforward power metal, mid-paced songs with a tavern-like atmosphere [Editor’s note: Think Italy’s Vexillum here] like “Laissez Fair”, and even slower paced (yet very impressive) pieces like “A Wanderer’s Lament” and “Thoughts Of The Waves”. The guitars hold nothing back, as they provide a sufficient and consistent heaviness, as well as plenty of delicious melody. Keyboards are present throughout the album, building atmosphere while never becoming overbearing. Conorach even uses the occasional folk whistles and strings to contribute to its desired medieval feeling.
Through The Ages is well-produced, especially considering that it’s an independent release, as Conorach remains unsigned. Through The Ages is not an album that will be on any top 10 lists by year’s end, especially since 2014 has been an unusually productive year for power metal. However, with this release Conorach has shown that it can hold its own and make some very solid music. Best of all, the band has a lot of room to grow. I look forward to seeing where this group goes from here, because it certainly has the talent to make some great music. I would highly recommend this to fans of Falconer, Elvenking, or Wuthering Heights.
3.75 // 5