Remember the time when metal used to have some magic?
Where few bands would dare, Swedish super group The Ring have accepted the challenge, and the result is nothing less than stunning. The core trio of The Ring consist of some of the finest songwriters and musicians around on today’s music scene. Throughout Tales From Midgard , the core trio of Pontus, Jakob and Marcus keep coming up with killer riffs, memorable melodies and evocative lyrics, highlighted by Jakob’s dramatic vocal delivery throughout the album. For additional lead vocals on Voices of The The Fallen Kings they enlisted the versatile Doogie White (who first rose to prominence as lead vocalist for Ritchie Blackmore’s latest – and possibly last – incarnation of Rainbow).
It all started with three musicians wanting to remind themselves of why they started out making music in the first place. ” When going to metal festivals, I found myself getting bored very easily” says Pontus. ”A lot of power metal has become all about formula. The feel they have to have certain ingredients, like double bass drums and shredding solos. But predictable scales with brilliant technique mean nothing if the musicality, the sense of melody, is lacking. We wanted to get back to the original passion that made us want to become musicians and songwriters in the first place”. Trying to re-ignite that spark also meant not shying away from or censoring early influences. Re-capturing the feel of their formative years, some of the greats come to mind when listening to the album: The drive and heaviness captured by Dio-era Black Sabbath. The relentless riffery of early Metallica. The proud twin guitar lines of Judas Priest. The epic ebb and flow of the best concept albums from earlier decades. All brought together by a superb musicianship that allows both light and shade. The song that iniated the project was actaully concieved some six years ago by Jakob and Marcus. ” We immediately sensed that we were onto something special. But we didn’t feel that we had the right context for it – until this story began to take shape”. Tales From Midgard takes the listener on a journey that covers every aspect of human emotion, from rage to reflection, from hope to infinite sadness. At the heart of the story is the timeless quest for power and worthy leadership. A true collaboration between the band members (who co-wrote and produced the album themselves) Jacob’s story informed the textures of the music, and vice versa. ” We constantly kept refining everything to make sure there wasn’t any week links or dead moments”, says Marcus. ” Even when recording, we kept adding nuances to the songs. Our aim was to avoid complacency at any price. To never say ”this will do” but keep striving for the consistant excellence that we felt that the metal-by-numbers scene had lost along the way”, says Pontus. Being Swedish, they almost subconsciously added some Nordic harmonies. Sometimes reminiscent of folk music and old classical masters of Scandinavia (Grieg, Sibelius), the melodies showcase a sense of history and belonging that viking wannabes all over the world can only dream of. The playing oozes confidence. ments of shredding only appear when actually called for, by the dynamics of the music, whether it be a monstrous riff, a melody of impossible beauty or a metal rhythm section that actually grooves. Just when you had given up hope for an album with this sense of quality control, integrity and care, Tales From Midgard appears. And it is destined to remain a rewarding listen in years to come.
Now, all you have to do is close your eyes to co-navigate your way through a journey beyond both place and time...