DARK MOOR: Shadowland CD Sealed digipak. Melodic power metal a la Labyrinth, Helloween, Symphony X. Check audio (whole album)


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Melodic power metal similar to this of Labyrinth and Rhapsody and some elements of Helloween, Symphony X, Blind Guardian. The lyrics they are clearly influenced by J.R.R. Tolkien and H.P Lovecraft. Sealed digipak

Elisa Martin – Vocals
Enrik Garcia – Guitar
Albert Maroto – Guitar
Anan Kaddouri – Bass
Roberto Pede Camus – Keyboards
Jorge Saez – Drums

1. Shadowland (0:36)
2. Walhalla (6:57)
3. Dragon Into the Fire (5:05)
4. Calling on the Wind (5:04)
5. Magic Land (4:58)
6. Flying (6:40)
7. Time Is the Avenger (7:11)
8. Born in the Dark (5:06)
9. The King’s Sword (5:52)
10 The Call (06:51)

About the Album: The earliest of Dark Moor recordings, this will be appreciated by those who also enjoy their albums In the Hall of the Olden Dreams, and The Gates of Oblivion. (Possibly by everyone else too, but that is just my bias.) It is worth noting that the level of sophistication for the production and recording is quite a bit lower than later albums.

5.0 out of 5 stars SHADOWLAND
Dark Moor, an excellent group, from Madrid, where I was born, for more signs.
They make some versions of the great composers, both classic and Spanish, fantastic, and as people, very nice, they are with you as long as you want and those airs of greatness do not occur as happens to others.

Dark Moor, un excelente grupo, madrileño, donde yo nací, para más señas.
Hacen unas versiones de los grandes compositores, tanto clásicos como españoles, fantásticas, y como personas, muy agradables, están contigo todo el tiempo que quieras y no se dan esos aires de grandeza como les pasa a otros.

European power metal often gets put down as being all pomp and production, thus implying that if you take out the thunderous drums and fancy studio gimmicks that the style wouldn’t have a leg to stand on. It is further asserted that the style knows nothing of the humble nature of the beginnings of the all encompassing metal genre, and is instead more geared towards the pretentious nature of Arena Oriented Rock. But this particular album, the first by now rightly acclaimed symphonic power metal outfit Dark Moor, tells a radically different story.

Taking its cues largely from the mid to late 80s of Helloween, which is known mostly as the Kai Hansen years, “Shadowland” puts forth a bare bones version of what most know from this band on the 2 releases after this one. The drum production is quite rough and high end heavy, and actually sounds quite similar to Ingo Schwichtenberg’s sound on the “Walls of Jericho” album. Most of the songwriting mixes elements of the 2 Keepers albums with a large amount of neo-classical keyboard and guitar work, most likely influenced by Rising Force.

The most powerful element on display here is the vocal performance by Elisa Martin, who pulls her weight in this genre better than most. The general stereotype of female fronted power metal is that of the operatic or gothic approach, as typified in bands such as Within Temptation and Nightwish. Elisa avoids this cliché quite gracefully, being able to shout and produce a gravely tone effortlessly and still produce a subdued, feminine voice when it’s called for. What is heard on this album is probably the least processed version of her vocal capabilities, and it hits equally as hard as her later work with Hamka and Fairyland does.

The various songs on here tend mostly towards the catchy, formulaic kind of symphonic power metal that Rhapsody is known for, but ultimately come off a bit less cheesy. There is an inherent darkness to what is on here, even when the songs resort to any familiar major chord progressions that are often associated with any other band’s more lighthearted work, the ultimate result when combined with this arrangement is something that listens as either a sense of false hope or a brief glimpse of light in an otherwise dark world.

There are many highlight moments throughout this album, but a few songs on here just manage to tower over the rest. “Magic Land” is a perfect marriage of epic story telling and a musical homage to Yngwie Malmsteen, emulating several songs from the Trilogy album; definitely a brilliant lead guitar job done on here by both players. “Walhalla” is easily the catchiest of everything on here thematically speaking, be it the classical fanfare guitar harmony intro, or that perfect chorus that bands like Edguy often attempt to pull off, but ultimately can’t execute the same way an outfit like this can.

But if there is one song on here that deserves a listen more than any, it’s the epic symphonic colossus “Calling on the Wind”. Although most of this is pure speed metal, the song has a half-ballad feel to it melodically, mostly due to Elisa’s vocal interpretation. It starts off very subdued with just piano and a synthesized background orchestra accompanying, and then just blows into full out majestic triumph, all the way to the chorus, where the poignant melody morphs into a crazed ode of a lover with tears in her eyes. Although she has mimicked this song’s style a couple times on subsequent Dark Moor albums and on the Fairyland debut, this one is still my personal favorite.

Sadly, in addition to being the most stripped down version of the Dark Moor sound, it is also the least talked about and most likely the least paid attention to. There isn’t really anything holding this back other than a rough production, which in some ways is an endearing thing as it comes across as a more open and honest expression of the band’s true power during this era. If you like power metal and it’s lovely symphonic cousin, I invite you to give this album a chance, you won’t regret it.

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Weight 0.1 kg


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