Formed in 2012, the battle-hardened folk-metal warriors of East Anglia have become a force to be reckoned with on the UK metal circuit, sharing stages with the likes of Evil Scarecrow, Whispered, Manegarm and Grimner, and received praise for their diverse sound and powerful live show. The group have now released this, their 2nd album which was crowd-funded. It follows 2017’s ‘Seven Tales Of Swords & Ale’.
And to be fair, it’s a bit of alright. Vocalist Hellbard reminds me of Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson. In fact the title track opener’s chorus could be a mixture of Maiden & Helloween fused perfectly. There’s keyboards and violin which mix well with the mid tempo beat, and there’s a hint of ‘You Slosh’ here too. An Irish band from the 90’s that refused to sign to EMI as the label wanted them to change their style.
In fact, when it comes to style, I would have to say it’s pretty unique. These guys I can only describe as an Iron Maiden folk band. And I mean that as a compliment. ‘The Mead Hall’ holds a stunning mid section of a dual violin / guitar solo which impresses me no end, and ‘Hammer To Anvil’ has convinced me that these guys would be awesome live. And the reason why I say this is because they have managed to produce their live sound within this album. A very hard thing to do. Well done guys. It’s another belter but where a lot of bands flourish through their choruses, Atorc, for me, flourish through their mid-sections. They’re imaginative, unforgettable and immersive. ‘Hammer To Anvil’ being a perfect example. Atmospheric with some great double bass drumming from Thor, followed by another belting solo from Scallywag, who has the gift of being able to make his guitar sound like a synthesiser in parts. Cool.
I can be honest and say that although this is not my genre, Atorc are winning me over with each song. The atmospheric ‘Maidens Of the Shield’, the Gaelic ‘Voice Of The Storm’, the floor filling ‘Isle Of The Brave’, the beautifully crafted ‘Ragnorak’ , which by the way stands out on this album by a country mile, and finally ‘Shieldwall’.
I was not expecting what I’ve heard tonight. Totally blown away. A great album from a band more than capable of achieving anything. Someone needs to sign these guys up.
1 – Hrafansmerki
2 – Under the Raven Banner
3 – The Mead Hall
4 – Hammer To Anvil
5 – Maidens Of The Shield
6 – Sovngarde
7 – Voice Of the Storm
8 – Isle Of The Brave
9 – Ragnorak
10 – Shieldwall
Hellbard – Vocals / Scallywag – Guitars / Battlebeast – Bass / Thor – Drums
Boudikath – Keyboards / Vocals (Backing) / Huldra – Violin