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Review: Ancient Bards - Soulless Child
Ancient Bards
Soulless Child

Label: Limb Music Products
Year released: 2011
Duration: 66:32
Tracks: 10
Genre: Power Metal

Rating: 3.75/5

Review online: December 10, 2011
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Readers Rating
Soulless Child

Rated 3.77/5 (75.38%) (13 Votes)

I was very impressed with Ancient Bards' debut, The Alliance of the Kings as I found it to be an exciting, energetic album of Symphonic Power Metal. As a result I was eagerly looking forward to the band's second installment of the Crystal Sword saga, Soulless Child.

Musically, Soulless Child is cut from the same cloth as its predecessor; big choruses, keyboard flourishes, speedy double-kick drums and the excellent vocals of Sara Squadrani are the album's bread and butter. Where it differs, and ultimately falls short of the standard set by The Alliance of the Kings, is in the songwriting. The first five songs, while decent enough individually, sound very similar to one another. All feature double-kicks for at least 50% of the time and while I'm a big fan of that style of drumming and I never thought I'd say this, it is too much. Double-kicks in Power Metal are the adrenaline shot that gets the listener excited and pumped up, but after a while, the effect wears off and it gets boring. By not mixing up the tempos, Ancient Bards runs the risk of losing their audience. The production, which places Squadrani's vocals a bit towards the back, doesn't help.

Fortunately, the second half of Soulless Child addresses these concerns. Beginning with the instrumental, "Dinanzi Al Flagello," the album shows off some variety in composition. The next song, the title track" is much the same as the first five but the vocals are clearer and the story of the Crystal Sword starts to move forward. "Through My Veins" and the epic, 14 minute closer "Hope Dies Last" use both the instruments and vocals to build real dramatic tension and the album ends on a high note with the battle between good and evil about to begin.

By itself, Soulless Child is a good, if not great, Symphonic Power Metal album. In the shadow of the debut, however, the songwriting and sound have both taken a step back. The album redeems itself by the end and the last few tracks offer a clear sign of what the band is capable of. Hopefully Ancient Bards will pull it all together again for the final installment of the Crystal Sword trilogy.

Other related information on the site
Review: A New Dawn Ending (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: Origine - The Black Crystal Sword Saga Part 2 (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: The Alliance of the Kings (reviewed by MetalMike)
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