Numenor Sword and Sorcery 01Tolkien metal is actually a thing. For those that haven’t come across it prior to now, it’s a subgenre of black metal that’s supposedly more atmospheric and ambient with lyrics entirely based around Tolkien’s works. Summoning are the forerunners of the genre, but it looks like they have a little competition in the shape of Serbian band Númenor.

Sometimes you come across an album that’s just so beautifully packaged that you need to hear what’s at the very heart of it. Colossal Darkness (Númenor‘s debut full length) hit me in just that way. “Opus Draconis” made an entrance that I can only describe as enchanting and by the time “The Eternal Champion” galloped in followed by the charge of “The Hour of the Dragon” I was shamelessly hooked. From start to finish, there’s not a misstep as Númenor skillfully blends their quirky symphonies with black metal and larger-than-life power metal anthems. There’s a lot happening and it’s nothing short of delightful. After being so enamoured by Colossal Darkness, I’m left wondering whether Númenor can recreate the magic in Sword & Sorcery.

The answer is mostly yes and with a hint of no. As a whole Sword & Sorcery continues on with what Númenor started in Colossal Darkness. Sword & Sorcery begins with a big-sounding introduction similar in direction to Frosttide‘s “Winter’s Call” –  it’s doused in atmosphere and escalates quickly, drawing you into the unfolding story. As the “Intro” concludes you’re rushed speedily into “Dragonheart” which hits you with the theatre of Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody (Ascending to Infinity) the speedy battle against time of Wintersun, the deathy rasps of Kalmah and the blackened heart of Carach Angren. The range of vocal styles makes the track a treat, from Andjela Isic who plays the sweet-sounding beauty to Despot Marko Miranović’s gruff blackened beast, contrasted by Željko Jovanović’s theatrical cleans, there’s more than a little of everything here and it all effortlessly combines. Some might say the theatrics and narration are cheaply tossed about, dripping with too much accent, but they’d be wrong.

The remainder of the album, barring “Prelude I” and ‘Prelude II” continues on in the same fashion as “Dragonheart.” They’re packed with Srđan ‘Sirius’ Branković’s bombastic and melodic guitar riffs, quirky and made-for-the-stage Magnus Karlsson sized guitar solos reeking of dexterity wrapped in Mladen Gošić and Bálint Kemény’s pretty sounding keyboard orchestrations. The songs, despite having so much going on within them, move quickly and don’t overstay their welcome. In addition, they have the accessibility and fist-pumping easy-listening attitude of a hard rock anthem, so much so that they quickly become earworms. Don’t be the least bit surprised if you’re sitting at your desk and burst out in song, piping “The age of darkness and fire and ice, signs and omens shine so bright, the prince with silver hand came from the light” at the top of your lungs – that was just “the Prince in the Scarlet Robe” running fleetingly through your mind and “The Oath of Feanor” won’t be far behind.

Numenor Sword and Sorcery 02

Where Sword & Sorcery becomes disjointed in in the inclusion of “Prelude I” and “Prelude II” and their associated breaks between tracks. Let me start by saying that on their own, neither of these preludes are bad – in fact it’s quite the opposite, they’re beautiful. But, as they’re positioned, they break the momentum achieved by the triumphal moments preceding them. It’s tough to say they’re necessary and at best, they should have been shortened and recorded as the introductions to “The Prince and the Scarlet Robe” and “Bane of Durin” respectively. Neither “The Prince…” nor “Bane…” come across as excessively long tracks without them and probably wouldn’t have seemed much longer with an additional minute or so prettiness tacked on.

Sword & Sorceries production suits the varied style of the music. It often reminds me of the warm and epic style used on Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody (Ascending to Infinity), the main difference being a light buzz applied to the guitarwork from time to time that becomes oddly endearing. My gripes are few and far between on Sword & Sorcery. It’s a logical and endearing followup to what Númenor created with Colossal Darkness and fans of the band should be pleased with their consistency. As a whole this album’s been a fun listen and I’ve enjoyed spinning it almost exclusively this past week. Once again, Númenor brought their fantastical a-game! [Why do they have their swords out inside the castle? We need sword control!Steel Druhm]


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Stormspell Records
Websites: numenor-band.net | facebook.com/numenor
Releases Worldwide: September 15th, 2015

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  • This sounds like Alestorm but better and also sillier.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Is that even possible?

      • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

        No on both accounts.

    • Speaking of silly, when do we get a review of Ladybaby? Don’t act like ya’ll over at the AMG offices don’t spend most of the day watching their videos on youtube.

      • Martin Knap

        I know for a fact that most of them are into ladyboys

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Well, I’m out. I blame Diabolus in Muzaka for ALL of this shit.

  • Kronos

    You misspelled [Luca Turilli’s] Rhapsody [of Fire].

    • No, it’s Rhapsody of Fyre!

      • Nope you’re also wrong. It’s Rhapsody ov Fyre!

        • Pimpolho

          All wrong. It’s Rhvpsody ov Fyrv, obviovsly.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Eee-ma-reld Swohrds!

    Nice, in-depth review. Their first release sounds awesome; will have to check it out.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Madam X reviews a power metal album… The world has gone mad!

    • What’s even more disturbing is that she liked it… *shivers*

      • André Snyde Lopes

        I can picture it now:

        Druhm has been giving some very generous scores to power metal albums so AMG decides that this needs to stop, otherwise all these highly praised power metal albums might overshadow his mighty Gloryhammer boner. Thus, he gives the job Madam X… who proceeds to give this power metal album a high score.

        “Drat! Foiled again!” AMG says, as Druhm laughs with his best Muttley impression.

        Just a day in the life at the AMG offices.

        • Holy cow, that’s pretty much how it played out!

          Most days I try and keep order in AMG Headquarters, but sometimes it’s fun just to throw a spanner in the works… *evil gleam in her eye*

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            I’m about to throw a torch into the HR office…

          • sir_c

            A Maglite doesn’t work that way. It was built for clobbering

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            First, I clobber. Then, I torch.

  • Stefunal

    Is there any word you can’t make metal of?

    • sir_c

      Kanye

      • Kanye burn these churches?

        • sir_c

          that sounds a bit too passive and gentleman-ish to me. I though metalists were a little more assertive than that.

    • Martin Knap

      reggeae

    • Martin Knap

      gay

      • Stefunal

        Come on, don’t tell me you’ve never heard of Poison, Ratt and so on :D

        • Martin Knap

          ok, good point :)

  • UishidoX

    you did it again! another great album I wouldn’t know exists without coming to this website! ^^

  • CarvedInStone

    I would love this if it wasn’t for those terrible harsh vocals. Ruined the embedded song for me. It’s like they want to do epic cheesy Power Metal but they also want to keep their metal-steet-cred so they had to include harsh vocals. I hate that.

    • IronMaidenaregods

      Spot on. It just doesn’t work

    • Martin Knap

      Rhapsody has always one song with harsh vocals on their last two albums…

      • CarvedInStone

        And I don’t like it when they do it either.

    • Feytalist

      Eh, I quite like it. Reminds me of the vocalist of one of those German medieval metal bands, although I can’t quite remember which one now… Tanzwut maybe?

      Meshes well with the pseudo-black bits, I say.

  • Oberon

    With the description of Tolkein Metal, does Blind Guardian fit in that category as well?

    • Wilhelm

      As I said in my comment, I’ve never heard this called a genre. There is cool site, The Tolkien Music database (google it) that lists most bands (and songs), regardless of musical style, who have lyrics related to Tolkien. I found that power metal, black metal and folk metal and folk music were pretty dominant overall.

  • Wilhelm

    eh sounds very cliche, bland with bad production, in fact I couldn’t make it to the end of the song. Tolkien metal, by the way, is not a genre (unless you want to count lyrical content only, which nobody does) as this is an entirely different musical style than a band like Summoning.

  • Tim Coates

    except for the growling remind me of the first yngwie solo
    albums

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    I can’t quite put my finger on my what my problem with this but I think its the drums, particularly in the chorus. It’s not the most inspired performance you’ll ever hear and to my ears way too loud / prominent in the mix.
    I found it hard to enjoy the song even though there are some catchy elements, the guitarist has some pretty decent chops and the singer has a great voice for this sort of over the top Tolkien schtick (I wouldn’t be upset if they dropped the raspy vocals).
    I think I’ll pass on this one and wait to see what they do next.

  • Smell the Goat

    What’s professor Snape doing in the ‘Tolkien’ band?

  • madhare

    The embebbed track is probably the most juvenile thing I’ve heard in months. It even has those crappy cheap synthesiser orchestrations that all aspiring teenage composers/bands used in the early 2000s. So based on the embedded track this sounds like a 1. This, to me, is the opposite of Gloryhammer. Being way too serious about something which is totally silly.

    And that is the only “black metal” aspect that I can detect here. (Because that is also often about being dead serious – haha – about totally ludicrous things.) Genre-wise this seems just badly done power power with some harsh vocals.

  • Javier Truyol

    So, this is (Not Luca Turilli’s) Rhapsody of the Black Neoclassical Tolkien-Themed Fire (???)

  • Neb Bojer

    You had me at Serbian metal.