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Holy Shire - Midgard

Holy Shire – CD Review





CD Info
Bakerteam Records
11 Tracks
English Lyrics
9 / 10

Some of the best metal is coming out of Italy these days. I have lost count of how many Italian bands I've discovered and covered in the last little while, let alone what my colleagues have discovered and written about. There is so much excellent music coming out of that country that it's hard to keep up with.

Let me introduce you to a new band from that country that you should be aware of and pay close attention to: Holy Shire. Hailing from Milan, this dual female-fronted band not only has a very cool name, but it's about to release it's full length debut via Bakerteam Records after the successful release of a four-track EP in 2011. I discovered Holy Shire quite by accident over Facebook one day; their version of the famous tune, “Greensleeves”, blew me away when I came across it, and I've been eager for their debut full length for some time. And on May 13, Midgard will come down the pipes at last.

Described as “symphonic/folk metal” Holy Shire is that, and more. Like fellow countrymen Evenoire, the flute is featured prominently in their sound, though unlike Evenoire, they also utilize a keyboardist. Additionally, we have two female singers with vastly different sounds and styles added to the mix. Erika “Aeon” Ferraris has a raw, throaty, edgy voice, while Eliana “La Sisiki” Sanna has a soaring classical soprano vox. Combined, the pair is unique to the genre and produce a lot of great vocal melodies and give a lot of character and texture to the songs.

The songs centre around fantasy literature and themes of that nature. You'll recognize some of them by the titles of the songs. “Winter is Coming”, for instance, in case you've been living under a rock lately, is a Game of Thrones reference, and there are also Lord of the Rings references as well. Some of the songs are very dark, mentioning dark lords, shadows, and lots of firey deaths, battles, and curses, etc.

If you're into that stuff, which I am, this is a great album. If you're not so into that stuff, this is still a fun, fulfilling album to listen to. Musically, the flute seemingly dances through its melodies, and the symphonic elements combined with the guitars create great bombast. The songs have clever hooks and each is unique.

Favourite tunes for me on Midgard are “Bewitched (My Words Are Power)” which has an anthemic feel to it that made it a powerful first track. “Overlord of Fire” is demonstrates the bombastic qualities I mentioned above, and is a great head banging piece. “Holy Shire” starts out slowly with an ominous tone, speaking of black shadows flying and trees grabbing your soul and stuff like that, only to pick up half way through with a rocky beat and a super catchy chorus. I also really like “Midgard”, the title track. Coming in at over eight and a half minutes, it has a theatrical, movie soundtrack feel that feels quite epic. With progressive flare, this song mixes up different tempos and has several sections to it that tell a story of a legendary place called Midgard that sank into the ocean. It's a sad, haunting song.

But my absolute favourite song on the CD is Holy Shire's rendition of “Greensleeves”, a song legend says King Henry VIII wrote back in the 15th century. Long has “Greensleeves” been one of my favourite pieces of music and I love to hear different versions of it. Holy Shire turns it into a fast, rollicking tune that almost has the ring to it of a drinking song. If Henry VIII could hear this now, he'd be turning in his grave – or dancing in it.

This is definitely one gem of a CD and one gem of a band. Their page on the Bakerteam Records site says that “heavy touring” will follow the release of their album, and I hope that is so. These guys would be totally fun to see live because the album is so energetic and enjoyable. I think Holy Hire has a great future ahead of them, and I wish them all the very best!