Evertale – Of Dragons And Elves
Reviewed by Arno Callens
When my good friend Daniel first started pestering me about Evertale, I confess to rolling my eyes. After all, a title like Of Dragons And Elves reeks of cheesy Italian Rhapsody-knock-off. Despite the recent flux of quality parmesan stuff, more dragons and more elves are hardly what this genre needs. Unless of course it’s done in Dragonlandian fashion, wherein the story may have been told before, but the music elevates it to another level. See Dragony and Gloryhammer for other recent examples.
I say “other”, because Evertale is the biggest fantasy power metal hit to come out of Germany since Blind Guardian’s Nightfall In Middle-Earth. That statement may sound bold, but it’s not like there’s a lot of national competition. So I’ll go further. It’s the biggest fantasy power metal hit tout court since Lorenguard’s Eve Of Corruption and Under The Grey Banner itself. The larger-than-life sensibility, the towering choruses, the vast epic scope; all trademarks of a true dragon metal titan are there. But there’s more. German as they are, Evertale packs the album with thundering riffs, and as a bonus, employs a near Nils Patrik Johansson-soundalike singer in Matthias Graf. As Daniel and I have joked, Evertale’s honorary subtitle is “Wuthering Lorenguardian Of Fire”. Plus, they have a Felipe Machado Franco-cover, which is always a bonus.
One wonders how Evertale, independent and unsigned, even got the money together to ace every single aspect of this production. The mix is massive, the riffs hit hard and the vocals soar. There are several of these so-called “super-groups” who couldn’t build a thing like this even with all the individual talent involved. Anyone can sample together an intro like “Paladine’s Embrace”, but not many can follow it up with a song as mammoth as “Sign Of The Valiant Warrior”. This heroic opener sounds like you’re listening to five of your favorite bands all at once, with not one falling out of sync with the other. And unlike several of the Pathfinder school of extremity, none of this feels overblown. A lot of layers there may be, but they come together so organically they make A Night At The Opera sound like a fart. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but Blind Guardian needed seven albums to achieve this, Evertale only one. The bards obviously blazed a lot of trail, but Evertale blew through it with a vigor that would take similarly inspired bands at least an album or three. Damn impressive, is what I’m saying.
With great power comes great familiarity. The first half of the album suffers a little from this, despite the aforementioned curtain call and other such crater-causing crunchers as “Tale Of The Everman” and “Elventwilight”. Even the ballad “Of Dragons And Elves” brings the type of minstrelsy Blind Guardian and others have copied many times over from “The Bard’s Song”.
Luckily there is a catalyst. Around the midway point of the album Evertale steps it up, and this is where they really shine as a beacon of power metal glory. “As Tarsis Falls” is a huge tune, one of the best this year, and simply unforgettable. Evertale must have figured to ease us in first, then ambitiously skyrocket the album into the stratosphere. The rallying cry of “The Crownguard’s Quest”, the fury of “Into The Firestorm”, the melodic methamphetamine of “The Last Knight”, and the camaraderie of “Brothers In War (Forever Damned)” make for instantly classic playlist material, and among the best songwriting that modern fantasy power metal can achieve. Some of these songs may run a little long, but you’ll be too busy looking silly with faux battle manners to keep watching the clock.
As an album, Of Dragons And Elves isn’t perfect. As a debut, it’s freaking stunning. Evertale made the biggest splash possible with their first full-length, and will be hard-pressed to ever succeed it. Yet the craft, skill, and passion that went into this album proves that we have another power-player on the scene. With fantasy power metal popping up in Sweden, the USA, and Germany, the Italians’ monopoly might just have ended. The genre is alive and thriving, the bar is set high, and Evertale just obliterated it. Dragonland, Lorenguard, Blind Guardian; you’re up.
4.5 // 5