Vordven - _Woodland Passage_
(No Colours Records, 2000)
by: Alvin Wee (7 out of 10)
Following an under-promoted full-length debut, these Finnish mongers of melancholy return with one aptly titled MCD. Having found their synth-drenched syrup rather promising before, I cracked open the new one with some anticipation. Smacking of _In the Nightside Eclipse_ Emperor, the opening track heralds a new aggression, and a departure from Tolkien-worshipping musings to a more pagan-fronted stand. Titles like "Cold Pagan Steel" signal the band's new-found motivation, but old habits die hard as further investigation yields the familiar Covenant-style sweetness (minus the commercial pandering that makes Covenant so repulsive to us). On the bright side, Mika and Co. have dropped the lassez-faire tone of their debut in favour of a more powerful metal sound with fast double-kick beats and sonorous synth passages occasionally reminiscent of early Emperor. Musicianship has improved by leaps and bounds, and the band doesn't hesitate to showcase it in faster and more varied material. An uncharacteristically professional layout from No Colours should ensure this sylvan sojourn does better at the cash registers than the ill-fated debut. And I have to admit falling for their brand of catchy fantasy metal this time round, no matter how wimpy it makes me look. Gentler folk and the fairer sex don't have to look any further than this for a class act in epic synth-based metal.

(article published 12/8/2000)


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