Power metal is certainly not a genre in need of reinvigoration, but every once in a while a band comes along that really gets it and adds a huge kick to the music. 10 years ago it was Lost Horizon and Dragonforce, and more recently it was Pathfinder. What these bands all have in common is that they take the essential elements of power metal and shape them in their own unique way to create something truly memorable and masterful. In 2014, the band that changes power metal is Twilight Force. Their debut album “Tales of Ancient Prophecies” is an enthusiastic burst of energy that rivals many of the most innovative power metal bands. The primary influence, as you might imagine, is Rhapsody. Everything from the melodies to the keyboard use and chorus vocals, to even the imagery screams Rhapsody, but Twilight Force manages to outdo even the masters of this sound.
The biggest reason that “Tales of Ancient Prophecies” is so impressive is its sheer enthusiasm. It is triumphant, majestic, and completely appropriate for all battles. This emotion is accomplished in three ways that are no secret to power metal fans: keyboards, guitars, and vocals. The keyboard playing on this album outdoes Rhapsody in creating an amazing atmosphere, both in supporting the rest of the music, and taking the lead melody. The beginning of the album, for example, opens with a fantastic keyboard section that prepares you for the upcoming 36 minutes of glory. Likewise, “Twilight Horizon” begins with a driving keyboard melody, followed by a solo that shows you don’t need ridiculous speed to be skilled. The next fantastic element is the guitar work. Twilight Force’s guitarist is incredibly talented, and he has no problem showing that off. His solos, while not quite as pompous as Dragonforce’s, are definitely impressive. Whether it is through sweeping arpeggios or more traditional metal licks, this guitarist can seriously impress. Of course, power metal will always live and die by its singers, and vocalist Christian Hedgren does the band’s grandeur justice. He has an incredible range, a unique voice, and the ability to switch things up when required. Compared to a singer like Fabio Lione, he has similar enthusiasm and skill, but more versatility. His performance, particularly on tracks like “The Power of the Ancient Force” and “Forest of Destiny”, will completely captivate you. It is “Fall of the Eternal Winter”, however, where he shows his true skill. In the chorus of this song, he pushes his voice beyond normal limits, and brings back a talent not seen since Daniel Heiman from Lost Horizon.
Once you look past the individual performances on this album, you’ll find a set of incredible songs. There are only 7 full tracks, one of which is a ballad, but all of them present soaring choruses with instant memorability. These songs are certainly nothing new for power metal, but they are well written, with not a single moment that leaves you scratching your head. This ability to be concise is one area where Twilight Force reigns supreme over 99% of power metal bands. The genre is too often plagued with hour-long albums filled with an endless number of tracks that simply repeat themselves many times over. By contrast, Twilight Force puts their energy into just over 30 solid minutes of music to provide the most unforgettable songs possible.
With that said, there is one easy criticism of this record: the interludes. Interludes by themselves are not a problem; Lost Horizon has shown how to use them effectively. The problem on “Tales of Ancient Prophecies” is that the interludes show some of the lamest narration metal has ever seen. If you are familiar with the narration on Rhapsody’s “Rain of a Thousand Flames” album, this is somehow worse. If not, just bear with these interludes (or delete them) and move on to the brilliance that surrounds the rest of the album. What is so frustrating about these interludes is that despite “Tales of Ancient Prophecies” showing every power metal cliché in the book (including the awesome fire-breathing dragon on the cover), the album is very serious. These interludes take away from this atmosphere substantially. The final interlude starts to build towards something decent, but it's too late to redeem the earlier ones at that point.
When all is said and done, however, “Tales of Ancient Prophecies” is an album that will stick around for a long time. It is not the most original record out there, but it is far more inspired than many of the bands peers. It has the rare combination of musicians who are astonishingly talented, alongside great songwriting. Twilight Force is the future of power metal, and there is no better time to start listening to them than now.
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"Enchanted Dragon of Wisdom"
"Fall of the Eternal Winter"
"Forest of Destiny"
4.7/5 or 94%.
Written by Scott