Yes, FOLKEARTH definitely is a very productive project, because they pretty much release albums almost in a 6 month rhythm. Their last regular release “Father Of Victory” had been less than impressive in my book, so I was looking forward to the purely acoustic offering titled “Songs Of Yore”, where we get previously recorded tracks without all the distortion and pomp, which usually shows more of the actual substance of the song, as you have less things to hide behind.
So as is expected, “Songs Of Yore” is a pretty calm album, as we obviously do not get the fury and power of riffs, drums and what not, but instead are treated to acoustic guitars, cellos, Celtic harps, violins, accordions, whistles, flutes, bodhrans, mandolins, banjos, clarinets, Galician bagpipes, soprano recorders and recorders, as well as solely clean vocals, which have not always been the biggest asset of FOLKEARTH releases. And the quality of the vocals differs quite a bit in-between the songs, as some of them don’t quite match up with the range one would hope for, take as example the make vocals of “The Purest Breed”, which just lack expressiveness. Upon looking at the track list again, it struck me that 7 out of the 11 songs actually are acoustic versions of tracks from the ill-received “Father Of Victory” album, which I had called “uninspired” and a “disappointment”. So that does not bode that well for “Songs Of Yore”, now does it?
Overall acoustic versions of full Metal songs have a tendency of being shorter than the original, simply because of some “electric” passages not working out acoustic, but on more than one occasion on this album the acoustic version actually is longer than the original, which is a bit puzzling, but hey, there must be something to it, right? Well, I am not fully sold on it, because what sounded uninspired in its original version, does not necessarily sound better stripped down and sometimes the minimalist approach just doesn’t do the song any good, especially if it fails to enhance aspects and instead seems to drag on more than anything. Same goes for the production, which overall is better than on “Father Of Victory”, simply because of far less going on within the song, but some of the vocals still sound as if they’ve been recorded down the hall.
The two best tracks off the album also are the best on this acoustic effort, that being “The Iron Wolf” and “The Will Of Odin”, which show way more inspiration and expression, if you look at the whole album, it works better for me than the “original”, as it has a completely different atmosphere, even though several of the shortcomings of “Father Of Victory” also found their way onto “Songs Of Yore”. While Folk fans might enjoy this a fair bit, I still am somewhat concerned about the drop in quality compared to their first three albums...
(Online March 2, 2009)