Lothlöryen – Raving Souls Society
Is it too soon to start speaking of a post-Blind Guardian current in power metal? Following acts like Savage Circus, Orden Ogan, and Solar Fragment, who added crunchier riffs and harsher vocals to the German bards’ complex melodic structure, the Brazilian outfit Lothlöryen (the true metal umlaut-version of Tolkien’s Elven forest where everyone wears studded leather jackets and belts with spikes instead of golden robes or some such) joins such illustrious company. Truth be told, they have two albums on their resume, but this year’s Raving Souls Society is my first encounter with the band.
Without cashing in on the catchiness, Lothlöryen is a tad heavier than you generally expect from your fairytale power metal, and they certainly add a touch of progression not unlike their countrymen Angra or even Italy’s Labyrinth or Vision Divine. Keyboards take a backseat to the six-stringed storm of riffs and singer Daniel Felipe sounds like a cross between Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian), Jens Carlson (Persuader, Savage Circus), and Apollo Papathanasio (Firewind, Evil Masquerade, Meduza) all at the same time. His voice is emotive but rough, and he prefers snarls to croons, which only adds to the hard-as-nails quality of this album.
The songwriting is top-notch with several tracks that stand out upon a first listen, most notably the punishing “Face Your Insanity”, the addictive “Hypnerotomachia” (which is taking a stab at this year’s price for most convoluted song title, succeeding Sons Of Seasons’ “Magnisphyricon” in 2011) and the wicked “Burning Jacques”, the ideal soundtrack to set someone on fire to. You know, for parties! In the middle, the eastern-influenced “Temples Of Sand” and another madness-inducing track, “A Tale Of Lunacy” are in danger of becoming redundant, but the semi-ballad “To Live Forever” ends that slightly more unimpressive streak. My only real complaint with this record is the closing folk ballad “My Old Tavern”, which could as well have been a cover of “The Bard’s Song (In The Forest)” and no one would have noticed the difference. It’s bad enough Blind Guardian feels the need to copy that track on every single release, we don’t need others to continue that repetitive trend.
All in all Raving Souls Society is an excellent progressive power pleasure from a band that, an unnecessary homage not included, builds on its main influences and transcends them. The world needs more bands like Lothlöryen who are not afraid to mix and match and push the genre forwards. Looking at this and Caravellus, we might be seeing a surge in Brazilian power metal striving not to be exactly like Angra and I can only applaud that impulse.
Arno Callens’ Rating: 3.75 out of 5