Ringbearer The Way Is Shut

RingbearerThe Way Is Shut
Many metal bands have drawn on J. R. R. Tolkien's work as a source of inspiration, and there is a long tradition of borrowing from Middle-earth for everything from band names to lyrics. Vancouver-based Ringbearer take this much further than many of their colleagues, letting Tolkien's oeuvre inform every aspect of their aesthetic. The Way Is Shut is grand and cinematic, focusing on developing a distinct sense of space. A great deal of time and attention is given to creating the atmosphere and mood of each track, to the point that the record can serve as a kind of alternative soundtrack for The Lord of the Rings. The songs each correspond directly to specific scenes and characters: "Treebeard" is a tribute to the beloved Ent, complete with mist, verdant instrumentation and field recordings of birds; "Nine Riders" is a spooky, gothic slow-burn that mourns the fate of the nine human kings that became ringwraiths. The horror-esque tension and chilly hostility of "Caradhras" is also a high point. Synth-heavy and brooding, The Way Is Shut doesn't exist as an independent record outside of Tolkien's books, but if you're looking for something ambient to transport you even deeper into the fictional universe the next time you want to curl up with The Silmarillion, then Ringbearer have the neo-classical, fantasy-driven record for you. (Tridroid Records)