Bane of Isildur labels their brand of melodic death metal as 'triumphant war metal'. This perfectly describes the feeling and atmosphere present on the band's self-titled EP. The music has an essentially uplifting sound, creating moods and images akin to triumphing in battle. As I mentioned in the first sentence, Bane of Isildur play melodic death metal, that's exactly what it is; death metal that's designed to be melodic in sound and structure, not estrogen fuelled melodeath or Gothenburg.
The music present on Bane of Isildur's self-titled EP isn't overly complex or layered; it's quite easy to pick out the individual elements that make up the music: one down tuned guitar, a higher tuned guitar playing clearer notes, bass, drums and vocals. This isn't a bad thing though as the production, composition and more than competent performance make the music sound fuller and richer than my synopsis of the music would imply.
Songs generally start with a short instrumental intro up before the vocals kick in, like the songs 'The One', which starts with some mid paced cymbals and bass drumming in sync with thrummed riffs. Once the intros are out of the way the verses of the songs are very up tempo and intense with songs like 'Arise Triumphant' that make use of fast 4/4 patterns and double bass sections supporting both guitars as they both play the same riff. Songs are, for the most part, structured like this (with the exception of 'Grey Skies of Winter', which is essentially filler free and straight-forward): they start with a mid-paced intro followed by a verse, which is then followed up by an instrumental passage before another verse or blast beat section begins. The music isn't pure death metal, after all, the music has more of a Norse mythology/viking centered aesthetic than a regular death metal band, so the band has sacrificed some of the elements that would make the music purely death metal in favour of more triumphant, upbeat melodies, and even a few riffs that wouldn't sound out of place in a heavy or power metal album, like a few of the riffs scattered throughout songs like 'Howling Winds of Eternity' and 'Grey Skies of Winter'. That's not to say that the music isn't death metal either; blast beats and tremolo picked riffs among other traditional death metal elements are present on the entire EP, though they can seem a bit tagged on in places. The intro track is a good example of death metal instrumentation, albeit a bit modernised, with the constant bass drumming propelling death metal chugs along for most of the song.
There are two distinct guitar styles used here: a heavy, distorted guitar that forms the foundation of the music chugging underneath a cleaner guitar that plays more complex and melodic riffs. The distorted guitar tends to play straight chords and tremolo picked riffs that are more inclined to work in sync with the percussion, though that isn't the case throughout the entire EP, while the clean guitar plays higher notes and riffs that alternate between different chords both smoothly and rigidly as well as tremolo picked riffs. Bass is present in the form of short stretches of low-end rather than clunking strings underneath the guitars, and often follows the guitars along. Drumming is solid and not overly intricate and provides a good base for the structure of the music. Drum work makes use of a lot of steady 4/4 drumming composed of alternating bass and snare hits backed by tinkling cymbal work in the longer instrumental passages and blast beats backed by tremolo picked riffs, with cymbals often being second in priority to the rest of the percussion work. Double bass is very propulsive and makes use of lots of short little double bass fills as well as long mid-paced runs that drive the instrumental passages along. Vocals are well suited to the music: a raspy growl-roar that is clear enough to be able to make out lines of the lyrics without having to read from a booklet. Occasional double tracking is used, for example at the beginning of 'Howling Winds of Eternity' or other lines beginning while the other fades out, like on 'Grey Skies of Winter'.
Bane of Isildur have, if nothing else, provided a solid leg to stand on with their debut EP. They don't try to be innovative or experimental, but the music they play isn't dull either, apart from a few overlong filler sections. It's a pretty good, solid effort for a first release and Bane of Isildur is definitely a band worth keeping an eye on.