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Review: Ancient Bards - The Alliance of the Kings
Ancient Bards
The Alliance of the Kings

Label: Limb Music Products
Year released: 2010
Duration: 58:05
Tracks: 10
Genre: Power Metal

Rating: 5/5

Review online: April 17, 2010
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Readers Rating
The Alliance of the Kings

Rated 4.5/5 (90%) (30 Votes)

Italian Symphonic Power Metal. OK, that should allow all the haters to move on to the next review. If you are still reading, well, my friend, you are in for something special. Ancient Bards have released a masterpiece called The Alliance of the Kings. Huge and epic in both sound and storyline and drenched in glorious fantasy cheese, The Alliance of the Kings has it all, magic swords, heroes, dragons, evil wizards, elves and, of course, kings.

It never ceases to amaze me when a new band full of young musicians, puts together an album that sounds as though they've been around for years and are masters of their craft. Fronted by singer Sara Squadrani and lead keyboardist Daniele Mazza, Ancient Bards can quite safely be compared to countrymen Rhapsody as well as Power Metal peers like Blind Guardian and Sonata Arctica. There is a perfect balance on The Alliance of the Kings between the keyboards and guitars, each enjoying the spotlight yet neither overshadowing the other. Singer Squadrani is an absolute joy to hear. Not operatic, she nonetheless has a fantastic voice, able to hit the high notes without drowning out the music. The band plays with the youthful exuberance of early Sonata Arctica yet displays the maturity of Rhapsody.

The story is one you've heard before; the evil wizard has stolen the magic sword and now wants to rule the world and the four kings must join together to try and stop him. What Ancient Bards have succeeded in doing is marrying what could have been just another clichéd tale of good vs. evil with absolute pitch-perfect songwriting, creating a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. There are riffs aplenty along with wonderfully catchy choruses. The band changes tempos quite frequently, alternating fast double kick drumming with slower, thoughtful passages, often within a single song ("Frozen Mind," "Faithful to Destiny.") It all comes together on "Daltor the Dragonhunter." In the song, our hero, Daltor, squares off against evil wizard Sendor's dragon. The song builds in intensity and then the guitars, keyboards and bass engage in a frenetic exchange the actually sounds like a dragon sweeping out of the sky upon the hero who must vigorously defend himself. I listened over and over again and each time I could picture the battle in my head. That is impressive songwriting.

There are no weak spots on The Alliance of the Kings. This is about as well done a Symphonic Power Metal album as I have heard. Ancient Bards have truly set the bar very high for themselves with their debut release. In the here and now, however, The Alliance of the Kings is highly recommended.

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