Monday, March 12, 2012

Bolero - Voyage From Vinland

Bolero
Voyage From Vinland
Independent Release

When Pagan/folk metal first made its mark on the scene, the genre was something special and unique, and undeniably successful. But as the years progressed, more and more acts decided to cash in on the growing movement, which inevitably led to the oversaturation of acts all attempting to win over the same small audience. So when a new act makes its way onto the scene, you can’t help but feel that regardless of how enjoyable the band or album is, there’s little chance that the band in question will do anything that hasn’t already been done, better by those who represent the best of what the genre has to offer (Namely Ensiferum, Turisas and Eluveitie). This brings me to Whitby (Southern Ontario, Canada) based outfit Bolero (Who were formerly known as Dark Abyss), who have just released their follow-up to 2008’s ‘Through The Ages’ E.P. with their debut full-length effort ‘Voyage From Vinland’.
Putting aside the fact that the band come from Canada, and that the name Bolero brings to mind something more along the lines of Latin music as opposed to something Viking based, ‘Voyage From Vinland’ is a solid and likeable release from the folk metal newcomers, but nothing that could honestly be considered groundbreaking in terms of what the genre has already offered up in the past.
The five-piece act (Comprising of vocalist/bassist Morgan Rider, guitarists/backing vocalists Tim Ferriman and Casey Elliot, keyboardist/vocalist Alexander Woods and drummer Rob Rousseau) get the voyage underway with a brief instrumental piece (The title track ‘Voyage From Vinland’), which provides a suitably stirring and atmospheric build up to the first real track on the album ‘Send Of The War Summons’. Bolero have plenty of heavy riffs, speed and aggression (Particularly on the vocal front) to rival any of the big name acts in terms of heaviness and pacing, and the song writing is catchy enough to stand up against the best the scene has to offer. The only downfall evident is the pristine production (The song does sound a little sterile and perfect), and the obvious lack of traditional instruments to provide the folk influences. Despite the flaws, ‘Send Of The War Summons’ is a good song, and a credit to the band’s ability to write a strong song.
From here through to the end of the album, Bolero’s song writing rarely falls below the set standard of the opening pair of tracks, with ‘Voyage From Vinland’ retaining its quality from start to finish.
While the album as a whole is a worthy effort, highlights include the black metal influenced ‘Risen Victorious’, which features some great lead work and some impressive duality on the vocal front, the over the top ‘Pints Held High’ (A track that’s sure to become a favourite on the live front), ‘O’ Hail To The Northlander’ and the triumphant closer ‘Sworn Under The Winter’s Majesty’.
Apart from some production issues and some underwhelming instrumentation (Not only the lack of traditional instruments, but also some cliché keyboards in places), ‘Voyage From Vinland’ is a thoroughly enjoyable album, even if it’s far from anything remotely different or unique from what’s already been done within the folk/metal scene.

For more information on Bolero, check out - http://www.myspace.com/bolerometal

© Justin Donnelly