Cinnead Loreweaver, Rygon Riffaxe, Jarloc Darkstar and Justyn Van Stokken – yes, Ohio once more lives up to its fine reputation as centre of Celtic folklore. *snaps out of his trance* What? Where was I? What happened? Ah yes, LUNARIUM’s debut album “Journeys, Fables And Lore”. Hailing from Ohio this quartet has taken on Folk Metal with some Celtic touches, which is something that I’ve always had a weakness for, and one thing right off the bat, this is a two-edged sword, uhm, CD.
Why, you ask? Well, because some of the songs (actually quite a few of them) are definitely above average, especially considering that they haven’t been playing together for that long, but on the other hand we also have a bunch of songs that just can’t compete and make the album drag somewhat, which does not necessarily help their plight. The Celtic influences are not achieved through authentic instruments, as we only get the traditional Metal instrumentarium, but through melodies and rhythms, hence the “Celtic touches” in my above description. If I had to reduce the album to mere influences and comparisons, I would probably take a big cauldron, dump a lot of FALCONER in there and spice things up with elements of IRON MAIDEN, ICED EARTH and a dose of SLOUGH FEG, plus some rough vocals thrown in for good measure, so an intriguing mélange.
And the album sets out great, with the up-tempo “Warcry”, the galloping “Death Rides (On Winged Glory)”, the heroic “Sea Dragons” and the more MAIDEN-esque “The Divine Infidelity Of A False Prophet” (somehow the riff of this track really gets the better of me), but then the next three songs are somewhat of a let-down and fail to impress me, it’s almost as if the band ran out of steam for a while, before the slower “Feast Of Sargonnas” manages to pick up the slack once more. The last four tracks then showcase the potential and talent of LUNARIUM again, “The Waymen” brings back the epic freshness, while “Ale” is an Irish-influenced drinking song, “Luna’s Wake” is another excellent up-tempo cracker and “Trollslayer” at the end starts out really epic, before accelerating and throwing in some of the mentioned rough vocals, before going back to the beginning again towards the end.
The production, unfortunately has its share of weaknesses as well, with the vocals (which are very good, btw, Cinnead Loreweaver has a set of pipes that does remind me of FALCONER’s Mathias Blad more than once) sounding a little drab and overall lacking clarity a little. So where does that lead me in my review? Well, for one it is safe to say that 15 songs and 64 minutes are too much for their own good and it is inevitable that you experience some creative draughts as around the middle of the album, but many of the other tracks are highly enjoyable and show that the four lads are capable of raising the standard of American Folk Metal single-handedly (I know, I know, there is not much of it to begin with, but you get my point, now don’t you?), a good start, let’s wait for the second part and see, if they are able to address these few shortcomings, shall we?
(Online September 3, 2008)