The idea to create an album centered around J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy masterpiece, “The Silmarillion,” was conceived by AINUR 17 years ago. While each band member became absorbed in their own musical themes that centered around Tolkienian mythology, the band began to write ostentatious themes for the main characters and visualized this massive concept work. AINUR ambitiously reached the ninth chapter in “War Of The Jewels,” released on March 19th, 2021, via Rockshots Records.
AINUR have had a long creative process spanning 12 years, and in that time, morphed into a huge story, focusing on the War for the Silmarils. For those who are not familiar with “The Silmarillion” or Tolkien’s works, the Silmarils were jewels of great power and essentially precursors to The One Ring from “The Lord of The Rings.” AINUR took all of this inspiration and channeled the aggression of the fantasy war, alongside a clear inspiration from classic fantasy film scores, into this album. AINUR fundamentally act as their own orchestra.
The album opens with the intro song, “Fate Disclosed,” starting with deep drums and followed by narration from Ted Nasmith, creating calm Rivendell scenery in the listeners’ minds before leading into the war. “Wars of Beleriand” is the perfect combination of interplay between the guitars, bass, and drums, with all of them surrounded by strings, keyboards, and powerful melodic rhythms. “Hell of Iron” starts fully with drums and heavy guitars with complimenting bass lines on top. The duel of vocals from males and later female voices join in to balance the melody. Powerful and fast, it creates character and adds dimension. “Wars Begin” starts very peacefully. Gentle playing on the keys mix with the vocals and get lost in the power of the music. Nearly halfway through the song, the listener gets the feeling of a war beginning, but feels a bit dry at the end, with the sensation that whatever might happen soon will perhaps take place in the next song.
The narration is back in “Kinslaying (The First)” and again, all the instrumental parts are really well harmonized together. The musicianship is splendid, but not organized in harmony with the vocals, which gives the song quite an interesting soundscape. “Grinding Ice” opens with interesting keyboards and howling wind. The flute joins in with the orchestration, before the bass kicks in with strong riffs on the guitar, merged with drumming. Tracks “Battle Under the Stars” and “Spirit of Fire” both feature guest musicians, with Roberto Tiranti on vocals in “Battle Under the Stars” and Derek Sherinian on keys in “Spirit of Fire.” Both songs follow the same formula that defines AINUR, with progressive lines, powerful riffs, well-crafted melodies, and excellent vocals. The exception to that is the ballad, “The Broidress,” that gently leads the listener to the next masterpiece song, “The Great Battle (or the War of Wrath).” The balance between the music and vocals is in great measure and it has distinguishable lyrics, excellent piano accompaniment, with lovely orchestration and progressive melodies. “The Great Battle” seems to show all of the band’s power in the musicianship.
However, “War of the Jewels” as a whole does feel far more like a soundtrack than a standalone metal album. The band could have done more to make this feel more like a record, as, while “War of the Jewels” is an interesting concept, the album doesn’t have a lot of hooks to draw the average listener in, feeling more like an album that is just for diehard Tolkien fans, but lacks a bit of its own identity in executing its ambitious concept. Especially following in the wake of BLIND GUARDIAN‘s “Nightfall in Middle Earth” (1998), which also covers the tales from “The Silmarillion,” AINUR fails to leave the same lasting impression. The album is definitely worth a listen to for Tolkien fans, but may be a bit too ambitious for the average metalhead to really get it.
Written by Peter Jerman
1. Fate Disclosed
2. Wars of Beleriand
3. Hell of Iron
4. Wars Begin
5. Kinslaying (The First)
6. Grinding Ice
7. Battle Under the Stars
8. Spirit of Fire
9. The Broidress
10. The Great Battle (or the War of Wrath)
12. Apocalypse (Acoustic Bonus Track)
Luca Catalano – Composition, Guitars, Voice
Marco Catalano – Composition, Drums, Percussion, Voice
Alex Armuschio – Composition, Keyboards, Voice
Massimiliano Clara – Voice
Roberta Malerba – Voice
Elena Richetta – Voice
Giuseppe Ferrante – Bass
Luca Marangoni – Violin
Carlo Perillo – Viola
Daniela Lorusso – Cello
Chiara Marangoni – French Horn, Voice
Cristiano Blasi – Flute
Roberto Tiranti – Vocals
Ted Nasmith – Narration
Derek Sherinian – Keyboards