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Review: Dark Moor - Autumnal
Dark Moor

Label: Scarlet Records
Year released: 2009
Duration: 47:22
Tracks: 11
Genre: Power Metal

Rating: 4/5

Review online: May 30, 2009
Reviewed by: Larry Griffin
Readers Rating

Rated 4.25/5 (85%) (28 Votes)

Amongst Power Metal's most notable bands, Dark Moor are one of those that I have always liked, yet never truly been set on fire by. They seem to have a relatively solid fanbase, with The Hall of Olden Dreams and The Gates of Oblivion being universally hailed as their best, and I can see that; they're certainly very good and well written albums on their own, but I also like Tarot quite a bit, for its peppy vigor, and this new album of theirs is good, too. People seem to be relatively polarized about this newer stuff, with vocalist Alfred Romero getting flak just for the crime of not being a girl or being named Elisa Martin, but I don't see too huge of a drop in quality - they've just substituted the flashy, adventurous grandeur of the old days for a more cinematic, Kamelot-esque pomposity that isn't really that much better or worse, just different.

So here we have Autumnal, the band's seventh full-length and fourth without the pristine Miss Martin on vocals, and how good is it, really? Well, it certainly does lack the massive hook capability of Tarot, but that is replaced here with a heightened ambitiousness and a smidgen more originality - this album features a total count of zero songs that borrow passages from classical pieces, for your information. The songs here are not nearly as catchy as the ones on the previous outing, but somehow they're just addictive anyway, with a subtle, frosty charm that will pull you back for more each time. The mood is very similar to the one I mentioned in my review of Sonata Arctica's Winterheart's Guild, where the songs have a very personal, heartfelt way about them, an interesting sort of personal touch that adds a special nuance to them that I just dig. And for further clarity, Alfred Romero is a damn fine vocalist and he is doing a very good job for this band. Elisa Martin was superior, but they're really not able to be compared too much, they're too different in style.

So, really, this album is just packed full of quality Power Metal that drives to inspire and to invoke feeling, and that is what it does. The mammoth "Swan Lake" might catch your attention first, with its humongous choirs and elaborate songwriting, but this album is more middle-heavy than anything, with a run of absolutely brilliant songs starting with the alluring "An End So Cold," with its foreboding arrangements and graceful melodic hooks, and going through the bombastic "Faustus," the scorching "Don't Look Back" (which is a stylistic gem; the sort of restatement of the genre we need these days) and the epic, grooving "When the Sun is Gone," which could almost pass for a Tad Morose song off of Undead - and that's not something I say every day! With complex riff structures and ravishing build-ups, this song is a winner all the way through.

After that entourage of songwriting brilliance, it is natural to assume that the band would drop a bit in quality. While I would love to tell you that they do not, and that they continue to sparkle and dazzle the listener with artistic finesse, it wouldn't be true, and Dark Moor do indeed fail to live up to those amazing four tracks again, but that isn't a whole lot to dock them for. The last couple of songs are still good, solid Power Metal corkers, with "For Her" being especially heartwarming in its blizzard-like romantic leanings. Dark Moor still have a way to go before they can truly be called masters of their genre, but this album is certainly very good, and one of the better Power Metal albums out right now. With a bit of tweaking, though, I think these guys can put out something truly astounding...

Other related information on the site
Review: Ancestral Romance (reviewed by Christopher Foley)
Review: Ars Musica (reviewed by Christopher Foley)
Review: Autumnal (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Beyond the Sea (reviewed by Ivan the Bludgeon)
Review: Dark Moor (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Project X (reviewed by Bruce Dragonchaser)
Review: Tarot (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: The Gates of Oblivion (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: The Hall of the Olden Dreams (reviewed by Eddiethe'Ead)
Interview with Enrik Garcia on May 2, 2007 (Interviewed by Bruce Dragonchaser)
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