There’s one easy way to tell if an album is great, and that is asking myself; do I want to review it? For those not keeping score, I haven’t done many reviews lately, and when I have they’re mini reviews in lots of 5 because I’m too busy to do a full one for each album. However “Voyage Into Eternity” after one listen had me taking notes to type up later just so I could tell the world how great it is. The debut album from Brisbane’s VALHALORE album isn’t just amazing, it’s actually inspirational, and it is my greatest pleasure to tell you why.
Now every good folk metal album needs an intro that pulls you into the world of the album. I am not any of my D&D, WoW or Skyrim characters, so when I’m sitting at my desk eating reheated spaghetti it’s going to take something great to pull my mind into the world of warriors and legends. “By Moon and Stars” is an intro which does just that, it’s not the best the genre has ever seen, but it definitely reminds me of it and gets me in the mood for what’s to come.
VALHALORE have taken the power/folk metal recipe, a tried and true formula of harmony and melody, and not only mastered it, but spice it up with some elements borrowed from other genres. A good example of this would be “The Winterstone” which features a very heavy breakdown, and every time I hear it I get the hilarious image in my head of hardcore fans crowd-killing each other while the whimsical whistle plays over top. The whistle also gets an amazing highlight in “Upon the Shores” which features a solo that can only be describe as the woodwind equivalent of shredding. It’s phenomenal and blows me away (pun not intended) no matter how many times I hear it. Add this to the DRAGONFORCE-esque guitars and the seamless blend of screams and clean vocals, and there isn’t really much more you could ask from the band, they’re a full package.
Don’t let the viking ship on the cover fool you, the tin whistle makes the folk elements feel much more Celtic than Nordic at times, although if any music history experts want to debate that I’d be happily proven wrong. Regardless of origin, it avoids all pitfalls of the genre, such as not fitting well with the metal aspects and being mixed far too quiet or loud. Too many folk metal bands force to folk elements where they don’t belong, but VALHALORE make it feel so natural, and that alongside the excellent production value is what puts the album in the same league as the big names in the genre.
Despite my love for the album, it’s not one I can listen to on repeat over and over again. A folk metal album like that is comparable to something I could binge watch, like Adventure Time, and a full play through of “Voyage Into Eternity” is more like watching a Lord of the Rings movie. There’s a sense of completion and satisfaction at the end that doesn’t drive me to right back to the intro and start again.
In summary, I have a problem called World of Warcraft Syndrome, and no I’m not talking about my addiction. My problem is I use the word epic so much it’s lost all meaning. So let me tell you, the debut album from VALHALORE is legendary. It’s a folk metal must-have and outclasses any other Australian folk metal by miles. I’d go as far as saying this is Australia’s first world-class folk metal album, and is easily on the same level as bands like ENSIFERUM and WINTERSUN.