Elvenscroll is a folk metal band from Kerava, Finland, originally founded in 2006. The band has been playing with the current members since 2016, and their line-up consists of a whooping seven people: on the microphone you have Jussi Kangasharju and Anni Helenius, the latter also playing the cello. JP Rusi and Janne Karppinen are on guitars, Ismo Honkanen is on keyboards. The rhythm section consists of Janne Lukki on drums and Ville Kangasharju on bass. Their first release Never To Be Mourned consists of 6 songs with a total of 32 minutes, and sits in that awkward place between a long EP and a short album.
That’s pretty much the only thing that’s awkward here though, so I had to get it out of the way up front. The rest of this EP is pretty stellar! Elvenscroll remind me a lot of Wintersun, and where they differ is where it gets interesting. While Jussi’s vocals are a bit more rough around the edges than Jari’s, they bring a lot of nice touches to the mix. His growling sounds urgent and honest, and the parts where he channels his inner pagan warrior for some chanting and yelling fit in quite well. Anni’s clean vocal lines added on top of Jussi’s give the songs a very epic feeling, without drifting off into the look-at-all-my-sample-libraries world that Wintersun feels so comfortable in.
Most importantly, the songwriting is very solid and mature for the first release of a band so young. The instrumental interlude Kaiku Tulevan Sodan, which is very medieval sounding piece that tries to build the tension before the closing track Wild Hunt is pretty much the only song that does feel a bit tagged on and meandering. Other than that, the songs are very well structured and straight to the point with effective riffing and well paced changes between fast parts and more epic, open sections. The riffs are cool, and the melodies both on the instruments and the vocals are very catchy. As examples, the very first riffs in Relics are instant headbanging material, and the chorus from Statue of Goddess was hard to get out of my head already after the first playthrough. The compositions and the instrumental work is far more skilled than should be expected from a band that consists, judging by their Facebook pictures, of quite the young crowd.
The songs were recorded by Elvenscroll (with drums being recorded by Jasse Hast at Frozenmost Productions) and were mixed by Juhis Kauppinen at Shedstudios, mastered by Matias Ahonen at Audiamond. While I am a fan of gritty and raw music, I understand that epic, symphonic music needs a somewhat cleaner production than what I would normally prefer, in order to make room for all the layers to still be audible. Never To Be Mourned hits a pretty good spot for me, where the production is clearly modern and polished, but still allows for instruments to sound like instruments. And they did not even have to crowdfund their own studio in order to do it…
In summary, I really like this EP, and I am looking forward to where Elvenscroll go from this impressive debut. I definitely recommend this to any fans of epic and/or symphonic folk or melodic death metal!