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Power metal seems to be quiet a touchy subject to your stereotypical metal head. People seem to either love or hate it. I however will say outright that I love the genre myself. This album in particular proving to be one of my favorites in the genre. Full of amazing riff work that varies in tempo and in places is full of great, folk inspired catchy melodies.
So what makes this album so special? Well first of all I would say this album has its own identity in a genre that admittedly has a lot of bands that sound similar and copy cat bands. The first stamp of identity is singer Mathias Blad's performance on this disc. He delivers his vocals in a mid range almost monotone style that is quite hard to describe. Some people have slated the man, I stand by him one hundred and ten percent. His voice is powerful and certainly unique, different from the other nine thousand ball in a vice type power metal singers. He add's a mystical edge to the music particularly in parts where he does his choirs, sometimes with a female singer Ulrka Olawsson who provides these backing vocals, they amount to a big sound and are not cheesy in any way.
Stefan Weinerhall is a riff master if there ever was one. Laying down many variations of powerful and hook ridden riffs on the disc. His lead work is also superb, unleashing folk inspired melody's and melodic shred type solo's that aren't just laid down for techniques sake. The guitar leads actually add to the music and you will be able to hum his solo's. The riff's are actually quite heavy for power metal, the guitar's are tuned down to D standard and when the band decide to go full speed they pack quite a furious punch. The production has to be mentioned here also and its absolutely superb. Crystal clear and packing a punch the guitar tone is a nice fat round sound and the bass is audible, the drums sound nice also, the sticks sound like they are rolling of the kit superbly. The bass drum is obviously quite audible with it been a power metal album. However the band do not always use and abuse double bass kick drum sections. Take the odd timing mid paced section of "Mindtraveller" which is almost verging on progressive metal territory.
For personal standout's on the disc I would have to first mention the aforementioned track "Mindtraveller". The song for me contains a lot of great memories when I first got this disc in the summer of 2010. Listening to the album constantly on my I-pod in the sun when I first got the disc, this song was the first to stand out to me. With it's brilliant opening lead, amazing chorus backed with a choir sound on the keys which gives the song a mystical feel and its generally uplifting vibe. The opener "Upon The Grave of Guilt" with some of the fastest riffs on the album and a beautiful clean ending. Last song I wish to mention in my personal three "pick tracks" is Entering Eternity. This has an amazing opening riff/melody thing. With one of the best and most catchy chorus's on the album, the song also sports some great faster up tempo riffs which are full of energy.
But in all honesty there are no weak spots on the album. Each song delivers and the track listing was decided intelligently making the album flow very well. The songs all have their own personal identity and are delivered in a consistent package. This disc is really not your stereotypical power metal album for all it is uplifting the music also has a somber edge in places backed with its mystical folk stories which is all conveyed in the music to back it up. I would urge any power metal fan who hasn't heard this to pick it up asap. It's a one of a kind album with a very special feel. Also I would say for anyone not a massive fan of typical power metal bands such as Gamma Ray, Sonata Arcitca or Stratovarius to give this a try as it has a different feel to most power metal.
A beautiful, somber and mystical journey of folk inspired power metal. A must have a one of a kind masterwork of a sub genre, highly, highly recommended.