Vesperia is a 4-piece folky death metal band that hails from the Great White North. They combine crushingly heavy riffs with upbeat Celtic melodies to create a unique blend of fun death metal. “An Olden Tale” is the band’s debut album under this name (they formerly released one album under the name Bolero) and is a fantastic release from Toronto's stellar metal scene.
The major element to this album is, of course, the way the folk elements are incorporated. This includes plenty of keyboards as well as other instruments that are used to contrast the guitars. Often times these folk elements don’t necessarily compliment what is going on underneath, but this just adds another layer to the music. For example, “Bring Me Triumph” is dominated by a banjo-like twangy melody when the vocals enter, but the other elements of the song function completely separately. Other times, however, the folk elements are more subdued, like in the brilliant single, “The Swordsman”. This track is by far the best on the album, as it is led by a remarkably catchy guitar melody that is echoed by the chunky, muted rhythm guitars. Morgan Rider’s monstrous vocals also follow along with this rhythm. His vocals – both clean and harsh - are a major plus to this record. The growls put Johan Hegg (Amon Amarth) and Johnny Hedlund (Unleashed) to shame. They’re so incredibly deep that they don’t sound entirely human. The clean vocals are fairly limited in range, but this approach tends to add more atmosphere to the album. In terms of the remaining instrumentation, it tends to be what you'd expect for a death metal record. The guitars are exceptionally crunchy, and they often deliver brutal riffing when the folk elements subside. The drumming exhibits everything you'd expect (blast beats, double bass, incredible precision), and more. Drummer Cory Hofing is perhaps better known for his relentless work in Crimson Shadows; however, Vesperia offers him more of an opportunity to mix up the drumming with more unique fills and drum beats.
Looking at the tracklisting for “An Olden Tale”, it becomes apparent that the title track is going to be something epic, and it doesn’t disappoint. While it is only about 10 minutes of actual music (in contrast to its 17-minute playtime), this song goes through many different sections and sounds not previously heard on the record. The highlight of the track is near the end when it drops some of the metal elements and allows the bass guitar to come to the forefront of the music. This song is truly an excellent culmination of the album. Ultimately, however, every song is enjoyable, and while I generally don’t listen to very much folk-influenced metal, “An Olden Tale” is a solid release.
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"An Olden Tale"
4.4/5 or 88%.
Written by Scott