Legendary Italian Power/Folk Metal force Elvenking have unveiled the follow-up to their 2019 masterpiece Reader of the Runes – Divination with their upcoming 2023 album titled Reader of the Runes – Rapture due to drop in April via AFM Records! Calling forth a magic beyond imagination by conjuring heavy metal, folk and melodic death metal, pagan sound and essence, Elvenking has once more stoked the flames of myth and magic, to take us on a journey beyond the senses with their unique, yet powerfully familiar creations.

Vocalist and frontman Damna has said: “We feel stronger than ever. I believe after so many years we have gained full confidence in what we do and especially in what we want to achieve. The path in front of us is clear. We have left behind all fancies, inexperience and immaturity and we know inherently what is possible and what is not.”

Since the birth of Elvenking in 1997, the band has truly grown to create their own identity with endless bravery and creative finesse. Pulling inspiration from the foundations of Metal’s most epic subgenres, Elvenking truly emerged as a great with their 2014 staple The Pagan Manifesto. With four albums now at their backs, Elvenking continue to push the boundaries of imagination, beyond what music presents them, twisting and churning it into something enchanting and all their own.

The second piece of their colossal Reader of the Runes trilogy – Rapture, is proof of Elvenking‘s continuous journey. The rapport that band members Damna (vocals), Aydan (guitars), Headmatt (guitars), Lethien (violin), Jakob (bass), and Symohn (drums) have built over the years has become solidified like a woven tapestry hanging upon a throne room wall. Guitarist Aydan says: “The chemistry inside the band is perfect at the moment. Everyone in the band is perfectly aware of his role inside a complex mechanism such as Elvenking. This is fundamental in order to avoid cracks in the gear to proceed under full sail.” With Symohn returning to the call of the drums, and the permanent addition of touring guitarist Headmatt, Elvenking may have presented us with the best of the best in line-up thus far; linking harmonious agreement and understanding with creative passion and expertise.

Having been conjured between 2020 and 2022, and finally brought to life in May and October of 2022 by the band, renowned producer Scott Atkins (Cradle of Filth, Behemoth) took over mixing and mastering duties, piecing together the only outside aspect to this album’s creation directly beyond the band itself. “We record ourselves for almost 20 years now,” guitarist Aydan states. “I believe we have a crystal clear vision of what we need for each album in terms of production, sound, arrangements and performances. We are so focused on our music that I’m pretty sure we can be the only ones to manage the whole process to get the result we have in our minds.

Shifting into a new era along a shadowed path, we continue to follow the figure known as the Reader of Runes; delving ever deeper into Elvenking‘s story. Rapture presents itself with piercing red eyes and sharpened claws, bringing about a heaviness and intensity Elvenking seems content on releasing. “The tone of the album is darker because the story needed the music to be tragic and violent,” vocalist Damna states. “This gave us the chance to dig deep into our extreme metal influences. We are mainly a melodic metal band – we know that – but we feel that with this album we have set a further gold standard in what this band is able to pull off.” What was revealed by the Reader of Runes’ divination has now evolved in the second act, adding complexity and fear to an adventure that has now taken a twisted turn.

After three years of absence we decided to give our fans a diverse taste of the album,” Aydan explains (“Rapture” single). “This is one of the longest tracks and we feel it has all the epicness, the tragic nature and most of the nuances that the album incorporates in its entire length.”

With popular tracks like “Elvenlegions” holding a staple in their discography, and “Pagan Revolution” becoming a Pagan Metal anthem, it’s no surprise that Elvenking still holds tightly to their throne in the Power Metal Forest Kingdom. Reader of Runes – Divination brought forth one of my favourite Power Metal tracks EVER – “Under the Sign of a Black Star” that I listen to on a daily basis. Now evolving, we come to the track “Rapture” that introduces to the new path on our Reader of the Runes journey; a perfect lead in from the previous album, carrying the story forward while taking us down a storm-tunnel of questions and mystery. We find the Reader of the Runes, searching, reading, and pondering upon the next step, deeply considering the prophecies he has unveiled.

It’s a beautiful balance between Elvenking familiarity in vocal presentation while contorting in a heaviness through deepened drums, lyrics, and bass lines. Orchestral pieces still hold their harmonies but, we can feel the shift in the timeline. The fireside warmth and glow has dimmed, and cast us beyond its tender grasp. We feel the cold, the skeletal fingers wrapping themselves around us as the balance has changed, and we’re to face a much darker road onward. What awaits us beyond the myth and magic? What has the Reader of Runes kept in secret from us? Will all truly be revealed on the upcoming album, or will the shadows keep the curtains closed?

You can pre-order the upcoming album Reader of Runes – Rapture via the link. You can also snag merch and other Elvenking goodies at the AFM shop, and the Elvenking website! And don’t forget to follow the band on their social media outlets like Facebook and Instagram for news, announcements, and more!