Sometimes you realise you were just plain wrong about something and I don't mind admitting I was wrong when no shred of doubt remains in my mind. When I first heard this album I wrote it off as no more than another disappointment to complete an ELVENKING trilogy of disappointments that started with "The Scythe" and continued with "Two Tragedy Poets". I'm quite positive that I gave those albums enough time to win me over but "Red Silent Tides" never had a chance.
I couldn't have been more wrong about this album. Yes the band has virtually thrown off most pretences of being a proper Metal band and this is for the most part, melodic Rock that's very close to generic territory. The difference is, ELVENKING has the pedigree to follow this route and still create a masterpiece of Folk that will continuously leave you entertained with its beautiful melodies and smart use of instruments. I would still classify this as a Metal album though, just don't expect any of the power of "Heathenreel" or "The Winter Wake".
Elvenking is perhaps one of the most talented bands around as far as song writing goes – the lyrics are beautifully poetic and speaks of simple scenes and emotions that can be wrought to almost any familiar experience. There's something incredibly nostalgic about the album too, "The Play of Leaves" being my prime example: god help me but I just had a flashback of 80's Rock by musicians with big hair. The interplay between the guitar and violin on this song is simply spectacular, the one complementing the other where often an electric guitar would simply drown out the finer strings. Instead they play two parts in the same melody which adds a richness to the song that could not be achieved any other way.
The band's had a long history of awesome album covers: "Heathenreel" still absolutely shines among the best in the genre and again on this album there is so much beauty and detail to just stare at. The band logo is hidden in the in the concerned face of a sombre moon overlooking an ocean of vines, overlooking a lady dressed in a gown taking passage on a ship sailing on red silent tides.
There are some great tracks on here: "Dawnmelting" is the first example of the above-mentioned lyrical qualities of the band and is a great opening track, the opening notes of "Runereader" takes me back to the magic of "Heathenreel", "Those Days" is delightfully – yes delightfully – poppy and "The Cabal" possibly one of my favourite ELVENKING songs to date. Hell, I can't name a single weak song on this album though I admit I haven't spent much time trying to find it. This is never going to become a classic though, even in terms of ELVENKING albums. What this album (hopefully) is, is a sign that they're moving back towards their roots and playing the music that won them a relatively small band of fans, but fans who will always be spellbound by the magic that so few other bands can truly re-create. So, if you believe in magic and haven't yet discovered the world of ELVENKING, do yourself a favour and check out this album.
(Online September 10, 2012)