This album has blown me clean out of the water. Dark Moor's latest is extremely ambitious and has pretensions to be as over the top as possible and they don't fail either. This is the album Luca should have made with Rhapsody last time. They have the perfect mix between metallic elements and the overblown symphony. The ideas and sounds on display are truly breath taking at times. There is just so much going - so many atmospheres filled with wonder and awe. This is proper film score metal but never at the expense of the song. This is a phenomenal symphonic power metal release and is not fixated with speed as you might imagine. The only slight qualm I have is with the singer, who has a good voice but not a magical voice. There is no problem for the choral arrangements which sound huge but when he's singing the verses, he can sound a little flat at times but I am being super critical when I say that. He's a fine singer but he needs more of a persoanlity to his singing style which would enhance the songs immensely. Someone like a Khan perhaps?
The songs are not throw away or immediate and need repeated plays in order to grow on you but the good thing is that every new listen will bring you that something extra. Swan Lake is a magical operatic opener that borrows the theme from the famous ballet. On the Hill of Dreams borrows a melody theme from Phantom of the Opera and sounds abosolutely wonderful. Don't Look Back is perhaps my favourite song of the album. The operatic backing woaaahhhs are truly mesmerising. The guitar and keyboard interplay towards the latter half of the track are also immensely satisfying. When the sun is gone is very much a homage to Rhapsody with it's dark brooding atmosphere leading to an over the top anthemic chorus belted out like there's no tomorrow. For Her is the next amazing song on offer for us from Dark Moor and what a song indeed. Glorious shards of melody flows and tumbles out of the speakers topped off with a melodic, spine tingling chorus from the gods.
This is the type of album that needs room to breathe before it will reveal it's charms for you - but there is magic in there like you won't believe. The melodies will slowly sink their sharpened teeth into you and you'll be hooked. I doubt you will be able to find anything better in the symphonic power metal style in 2009. The grand haunting melodies are just immensely satisfying alongside the epic symphonic soundscapes. Listen with headphones and prepare for one hell of a ride. What an amazing album!