Ainur – War Of The Jewels

Posted: 100421 

Review: Erik Neuteboom

This is the surprising comeback of an Italian formation that released 3 albums between 2007 and 2009: Ancient Times (2007), Children Of Hurin (2008) and Lay Of Leithian (2009), all Tolkien inspired. I am familiar with the first two albums, it sounds like a blend of symphonic rock, folk and classical, with many contrasting moods, embellished with sumptuous vintage keyboards. And now, with a hiatus of 12 years,  Ainur presents its new effort entitled War Of The Jewels.

After a short and atmospheric intro with a variety of sounds, and spoken words Ainur delivers its ‘new sound’: an overwhelming blend of Heavy Prog and Prog Metal, layered with Hammond organ, synthesizer flights, metal guitar and a thunderous rhythm-section, this is often topped with powerful dual vocals (male and female). Like ‘ELP meets Deep Purple’, and with hints from Ayreon, Epica and Symphony X. The way Ainur uses different singers (solo, duo and vocal harmonies) reminds me of the prog opera-like Ayreon sound. It’s no surprise that Dream Theater keyboard player has been invited, on Battle Under the Stars he delivers spectacular synthesizer flights, in a bombastic up-tempo, and blended with heavy guitar. The epic The Great Battle (or the War of Wrath) reminds me of Kansas, due to the exciting interplay between propulsive rock guitar and swirling violin. But also Ayreon comes to my mind because of the male and female vocals vocals, and heavy guitar.

At some moments the band slows down with more mellow and dreamy parts:  like in Kinslaying – The First that features a classical violin sound), and even a nice ballad, the short song The Broidress. But in general it is up-tempo and bombastic, between Heavy Prog and Prog Metal, with less moments of folk and classical. This huge amount of Heavy Prog and Prog Metal matches with the many ‘war’ and ‘battle’ titles, in my opinion a bit ‘over-the-top’ in comparison with the more balanced first 3 Tolkien inspired albums.

The most elaborate song is Spirit of Fire: it starts in a bombastic Heavy Prog atmosphere, halfway the music turns into dreamy with soaring keyboards, then gradually a slow rhythm with warm female vocals, culminating in a moving guitar solo with howling runs, blended with tender piano, wonderful!

If you are up to more a dominant Heavy Prog and Prog Metal inspired sound this new Ainur album is worth to discover.