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Blackmore’s Night - Autumn Sky

Label: Spinefarm/Universal
Format: CD download
Released: 2010
Reviewed By: Mark Gromen
Rating: 5/ 10

I‘ve long been a fan of Blackmore’s Night, having seen a trio of US performances, always a fun experience. However, over the course of the last two disappointing platters ("Secret Voyage" and "Autumn Sky"), the rock fan’s interest hasn’t been placated. For a generation, Ritchie Blackmore is the definitive guitar player and when he doesn’t even acknowledge his legacy (as on the last trip to Philly, not a single ‘oldie’ in the live set), Blackmore’s Night is nothing more than a 70s easy listening act with the odd madrigal thrown in. ‘Oldie’ is a funny terms, given that some of the traditional arrangements pre-date electricity, let alone rock instrumentation and I love them, but when it’s only the yin, at the expense of rock’s yang, there’s something missing overall. Perhaps it’s the myriad of (once) unique combinations floating around the metal spectrum these days: be it the folk influences of someone like Falconer, the entire Finnish humppa movement (Turisas, Korpiklaani, et al), but much of the chrome is off the (ghost of a) rose. Unlike said reference, or even "The Village Lanterne", both of which mixed in enough raucous, upbeat beer hall anthems (‘Way To Mandalay’, ‘Cartouche’, ‘Loreley’, ‘Olde Mill Inn’, ‘I Guess It Doesn’t Matter Any More’), of these fifteen newest selections my ears perk up only three or four times and that includes the instrumental ‘Dance Of Darkness’, probably the MOST rollicking number. The first time is six songs in (!), another instrumental interlude, the 1:59 ‘Song And Dance’. One of those proposed uptempo numbers, ‘Journeyman (Vandraen)’ falls victim to a cheesy 80s dance synth backbeat (or worse, "The Macarena"!).


Elsewhere, there are sweeping orchestral strings, further distancing themselves from the good time, down home instruments (fiddles, flutes, etc.). They do retain a contemporary cover, an almost a cappella version of The Kinks ‘Celluloid Heroes’. On an acoustic guitar to introduce ‘Vagabond (Make A Princess Of Me)’, the Man In Black threatens to show off, but quickly gives in to the pedestrian pace prevalent throughout. Crank out the hurdy gurdy, tambourine and shwam for ‘All The Fun Of The Fayre’, an ode to their Ren Faire core audience. Half way through the disc, ‘Keeper Of The Flame’ comes closest to the flash of yesteryore.

Sadly, not the place for rock/metal fans to begin an investigation of the Blackmore’s Night catalog.

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