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Original if not amateur power metal - 85%

The_Ghoul, January 12th, 2009

Matthew Mills stands as one of America's more underrated shredders. In the widely saturated realm of power metal, where thousands of bands compete for the limelight with ever-increasing standards of competency, a great way to make yourself stand out is to have a fresh style of playing. Forgotten Realm, the project featuring the aforementioned Matthew Mills, isn't inventing anything new, necessarily, but what they have done in Power And Glory is inject fresh ideas into the stagnating world of power and speed metal.

Starting off with a bang is a great way to start an album, and Path to The Fire rips along with vengeance and fury, grabbing the listeners attention and never letting go. For days afterward, I heard Defolt screaming "ETEEEEEEEEEEEEEERNAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLL FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! WIILL CAAAAAARYYYYYYYY YOU AWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYY", one of many soaring chorii in this album. "Time" carries on this tradition, with intermittently placed leads and wonderful vocal lines over galloping drums courtesy of Rhino, though this song is not as fast paced as the firy (no pun intended) opener. One thing that prevents this from becoming mindless yngwie worship is the twin leads. They're not overly technical, but they are phrased extremely well, using subtle melody to counteract the more dramatic fanfare and flourish. That remains Forgotten Realms real strength. The actual guitar solos are good but nothing to write home about, it's really the random non-solo leads interspersed throughout the music that stand out.

Of course you have songs that would be laughable if they weren't done with such youthful zeal, like Freedom Calls, with its extremeley hackneyed theme of patriotic freedom. Memories of Manowar's "Fight For Freedom" and Gamma Ray's "Land of the Free" pop up immediately, and rob what is already a mediocre song. Actually, scratch the statement I made earlier. It IS laughable. But don't be surprised if your head starts banging uncontrollably. Fortunately, moments like those are far and few between on this howitzer of an album, and it maintains the level of quality set by the first 2 songs pretty much all the way, with Path to the Fire, Heart Turned to Stone, Eyes of My Soul, Forgotten Realm (song), and Man on the Silver Mountain standing out as my choice cuts.

One problem that DID continually stand out, though, was the production, which turned the strat's naturally sharp tone into a muddle that obscures the picking technique, instead of articulating it. As well, Mills is to blame too; for what he greatly has in freshness and originality, he lacks in technique, and the tail ends of a great portion of his sweeps and runs are often buried in the flurry of notes, coming off as sacrificial lambs.

Still, though, one cannot fault a band for those things on their debut, and Forgotten Realm definitely come off on the right note here. While Rhino and Defolt definitely have a recognizable jig and enhance the music, this is Mills' band, and is defined by his playing. Though with a few easily noticable flaws, it's a formidable debut, and has the thrashy american edge to metal, as opposed to the more left brain european approach. Definitely recommended to any fan of power metal.