What happened here? This over-the-top seven-piece Finnish act unleashed one of 2005's top guilty pleasures in "Third Age of the Sun", an album that crackled with life from start to finish. Its Tolkien-inspired imagery and vocal interplay (primarily soaring female vocals and a bellowing male death growl) propelled some seriously killer songs, and the inspired performances within made BATTLELORE one of the best up-and-coming fantasy metal bands to watch.I think in publicist-speak, the word for a record like "Evernight" is "maturity." Unfortunately, what that really means here is that the band has settled into a comfortable rut, plodding along in their chosen style in a lackluster way. Vocalist Kaisa Jokhi seems to be singing the same vocal line throughout the album, in a half-asleep lilt, never providing any hooks or passion to make the songs special. Not to be outdone, the guitars and keyboards rarely flare up into anything interesting, instead providing a safe, bland musical bed for Jokhi and death vocalist Tomi Mykkänen to spout off pedantically. "Evernight" doesn't suffer from bad production — the keyboards are as epic as ever, the riffs as forceful. But the songwriting does it in, utterly lacking in inspiration and personality, a huge step backward for the band. The overall effect is as gray and grim as the album art — almost oppressive, devoid of dynamics or the creative spark that made the band such a kick in the past. All we're left with is a bunch of dorks in Renaissance faire costumes, and this time around, they don't even sound like they want to be at the party. So again I ask — what happened? "Evernight" is a pleasant, pedestrian snooze, which would have been bad enough for a new band's debut, but is inexcusable after such a worthy predecessor as "Third Age of the Sun". Is the band trying to streamline their sound for more commercial potential? Are they just worn out and in need of a break? I don't know, but I sincerely hope this is a minor misstep, and not the beginning of the end for a band with so much potential.
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