• Maghreb folk vibes meet progressive songwriting - A review of Riverwood's Fairytale

    Riverwood - Fairytale (2018)

    Riverwood is an Egyptian quintet that plays progressive folk metal in the key of Amaseffer, Myrath and Orphaned Land. Fairytale is the quintet's debut record and already shows a lot of promise. 

    Even though the folk sounds seem to come from keyboards, they sound quite authentic and add peaceful layers of atmosphere to the progressive musicianship. The melodic guitar play is however the domineering element on this record and is performed both skillfully and passionately. The rhythm section around bass guitar and drums adds the necessary dynamic elements to keep the long tracks together but could be even more prominent. The melodic, melancholic and dramatic clean vocals suit the folk metal elements while occasional bestial growls give the music a grittier touch. Occasional decently employed choirs and orchestral sounds give the music an additional epic soundscape.

    Highlights on this debut record are the melancholic ''Möt ditt öde (Meeting Death)'' with its numbing atmosphere and impressive guitar work, the futuristic and progressive title track ''Fairytale'' and the highly diversified instrumental track ''Lost in Nature'' with its almost meditative vibes that offer nearly ten minutes of appeasing escapism from reality.

    Among the few negative elements, let's mention the production that could sound even more organic and powerful, especially regarding the rhythm section as backbone of the release and the prominent keyboard sounds. The growls sound powerful but are sometimes quite sudden and loud and could benefit from a more skillful approach. While the songwriting is positively ambitious, a few tracks would have benefited from more concise renditions to avoid repetition.

    Riverwood's Fairytale is a very creative debut record that offers Middle Eastern and Maghreb folk elements combined with progressive metal. The skillful guitar play and diversified keyboard sounds manage to stand out particularly well. Despite a few minor flaws in the production, somewhat sudden growls and at times overlong song structures, the Egyptian quintet shows a lot of promise and isn't too far away from the quality of similar bands like Amaseffer, Myrath and Orphaned Land. The band could take the next step if it could perform a series of concerts with one of the aforementioned groups or similar artists. Let's also hope the quintet gets signed by a label with a bigger budget to support this ambitious group for its next album.

    Final rating: 80%

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