Middle-Earth Melodies: “House of Heroes” and “Third Immortal” by Battlelore

Battlelore is a Finnish metal band that has three things going for it: an awesome name, a deep passion for the works of Tolkien, and a pretty sweet sound.

Now, a lot of the group’s early material is centered on Lord of the Rings, but for this review, I wanted to go with something more recent that, while not directly tied to Tolkien, carries the same spirit of his work.  So here are the first tracks and top singles from their last two albums, “House of Heroes” and “Third Immortal.”

“House Of Heroes” (Evernight, 2007)

Album cover for Evernight. Copyright © 2007 by Napalm Records.

Both the song and the music video have great beginning, as haunting notes rise up from a guitar while visually we get the montage of a hooded man with a rod of Asclepius, easily defeating his enemies in a snow-covered battlefield.  Forty seconds later, the song stops and launches right into the heavy-pounding style that all metal fans will instantly click into.

There’s also a fantastic contrast between female vocal Kaisa Jouhki (apparently of Indonesian descent despite being in a Finnish band) and male vocal Tomi Mykkänen.  Kaisa provides a deep soaring voice to Tomi’s bestial growling.  In this case, having just Kaisa sing would make this song more pop than metal while listening to just Tomi would be nothing more than noise.  Together, they come off as a strong counterbalance of harmony and chaos that fits the theme of the song.

“Third Immortal” (The Last Alliance, 2008)

Album cover for The Last Alliance. Copyright © 2008 by Napalm Records.

“Am I immortal?  Must I obey?”

This question echoes throughout the chorus of this high-note, heavy percussion song.  Again, we get a similar image from “House of Heroes”–that of a lone man wandering the woods with his weapon in hand.  Only here he’s less of a wizard and more of a Ranger, which makes me think that this song might in fact be a kind of tribute to Aragorn or at least one of the Dúnedain.  The idea of long-lived men choosing not to cower but to go out and fight with their mighty gifts is one that certainly runs throughout Tolkien’s works, which seems appropriate considering he himself took his work from Norse epics and heroic poems.

And like in “House of Heroes,” we get that same gothic metal duet between Kaisa and Tomi, especially at 2:25 as their voices play off each other.  But suddenly at 3:56, we get a welcome surprise as Tomi stops his incessant growls of “Third Immortal!” and actually sings clearly in a true duet with Kaisa.  This marks a major shift in both the song’s melody and the music video, showing us the Third Immortal as he chooses to take up arms and go to war.

Final Verdict: Growls, Grace, And Grandeur

My first impression of Battlelore was that it was a lot like Within Temptation (at least as far as “Mother Earth” went).  However, just as there’s a clear difference between the Finnish and the Dutch, so also is there a difference between these two groups.  Battlelore is passionate and powerful, touching on both the light and the dark in epic sagas with its high and low melodies twisting together to form a single dramatic punch to the air.

Bibliography: Battlelore.  “House of Heroes.”  Evernight.  CD.  Napalm Records, 2007.

Battlelore.  “Third Immortal.”  The Last Alliance.  CD.  Napalm Records, 2009.

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