Aexylium call their creation Folk Metal, like so many others before them. This made us expect some leafy representation of Huldre or a Gangnam version of Kanseil once the review crew started on the record. Who knows, right? Maybe one can concoct some catchy dance moves to the beat of bagpipes and hurdy-gurdy? Yet, little did we know what we were going to find.
The Italians from Aexylium deliver a lusty tune with their debut full-length album Tales From This Land. Yet, the first thing you hear in Black Flag is full-tilt Power Metal – nothing really folksy. Alestorm galore, mingled with some Silverbones here and there.
I am unsure if Chris Bowes would really appreciate being taken to task in that way, but – hey – relax some. With all similarities, Tales of this Land sports distinct Italian accents. If that is good or bad lies in the eyes of the beholder. But you’ll find no Scottish ball-shaking on hairy-legged miniskirts found on this disc.
It also looks like Infinitas finally found a brother in arms. And that is good news because this particular band sat on the blog with no real brethren to show far and wide. Now, the resemblance may not be in terms of storyline, far from it. But you’ll find for sure an uncanny similarity at times in style, texture, and taste in the more folksy parts.
The RockmusicRaider deck crew even forgave the band their choice of an intro. The ubiquitous fire burning once again, some dude scratchily writing stuff at first, Prelude to a Journey wakes you up pretty vigorously nonetheless. I almost expected Chrigel Glanzmann of Eluveitie to emerge and embark on one of his infamous monologues. But none of that knavery will happen in Tales of this Land. ‘Tis an intro with a purpose, leading straight into the aforementioned Black Flag.
Now, speaking about Eluveitie, Aexylium sports that kind of tune as well. Don’t believe me? Fire up Banshee and tell me what you hear. Folk Metal on a bed of thrash, like them Swiss folks do so well. Mystique, suspense, and all that jazz are very present. Yet, the mix is sometimes so very Infinitas that the broadside of Eluveitie only hits ye later. The difference between Chrigel’s boys and girls and Aexylium is that the latter rapidly alternate styles and flavors like there’s no tomorrow. A relentless machine-gun fueled delivery of their tune, which – in itself – has its allure.
Yet, sometimes Aexylium push a tad too hard. Squeezing clichés actually can turn out to be a good strategy. But squeeze too much and you will kill the beast. Stealing with pride is okay, too. As long as you don’t go down the copycat road. Yet again, if at every corner of the tune yours truly detects some eerie similarity to one or the other band, things grow stale pretty rapidly. And no band wants to end on background radio road. Where every tune kind of played before and no-one gets ahead of the traffic jam.
That being the case, the variety Tales From This Land brings to the turntable never leaves a dull moment. From full, galloping Power Metal to folksy interludes, ballad-style elements to mid-tempo tunes. From thrashy, astute growling to strange excursions into Progressive Metal, all is there.
And hey, Tales from nowhere even sports a solo so Heavy Metal you start looking for Iron Maiden traipsing about the backstage somewhere. And this on a track that more impresses by its progressive and power-laden undercurrents than anything else. Speaking of solos, you may want to check out the juicy one in The Blind Crow as well.
The acoustics are another strong suit on Tales From This Land. Whenever they take off with their archaic instruments, I kinda wish Aexylium added a bunch of unplugged tracks to their selection. But hey, maybe next time, right?
I tell ya, Tales From This Land is nothing for the box huggers in purist land. And that is why we picked it up. Aexylium refreshingly gallivants around the metal multiverse, and aptly takes what fits and leaves what doesn’t. This brings about a brew of Folk and Pagan Metal spread out on a foundation of Power and Thrash that the RMR deck crew found hard to resist.
True, the band’s style is still a bit ragged around the edges. But this is to be expected for a debut album. Also, Aexylium is a relatively new band that came into existence in 2014 only. The eight-member band thus has it in them to kick the ladder up a couple of inches and deliver a much more mature tune next time around.
We will be waiting for more.
Ed’s note: Don’t forget to check out Aexylium’s 2021 piece.
Get dat tune: