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Nostalgia could be seen as either the enslavement or the occasional liberation of an aging metal enthusiast, and some bands and albums will tend to bring it about in a more concentrated manner than others. In the subset of power metal that came out of the UK immediately following the millennial revival on mainland Europe, it actually proves to be Power Quest, not the better known band Dragonforce that arguably made the former possible, that garners the greatest degree of nostalgia. Granted, the reasons for this are factors common to the famed 2000 DragonHeart demo (Dragonforce's former moniker), but something about the slightly less shred-happy and more infectious character of Scott Williams' songwriting shines through just a tad bit brighter.
While arguably the least consequential of this band's early offerings, this little three song sampler was essentially the SRB rocket that launched Power Quest into orbit as a certified alternative to Dragonforce and would pave the way for them getting the drop on their now more famous twin with a slightly earlier LP release dubbed Wings Of Forever. It comes with a fair degree of over-the-top cliches, namely the massive chorus sections with loads of background vocal layering and reverb to make even the likes of Freedom Call blush, high soaring lead vocal gymnastics courtesy of the now M.I.A. Alessio Garavello, who proves he can sing both under and over ZP Theart's somewhat gravely yet slightly more distinctive voice, and plenty of speed to boot. It's humbled a bit by the employment of a drum machine that is maybe slightly more realistic sounding than the one allegedly used on latter day Running Wild albums, yet still unmistakable, but this is a style of metal that tends to eschew humbleness in all its forms.
One issue which worked against the eventual debut LP that this is pointing to is a slight bit of over-ambition, and it is actually best illustrated in comparison to this much shorter work. With maybe the exception of "Far Away", Wings Of Forever turned out to be a bit overloaded with epic stand alone songs that would kind of run together, and the two sample songs from said opus that were employed here make this supposed sample a massive EP offering unto itself. "Glory Tonight" is a bit more upbeat and could be compared to later offerings following the debut, but it's pretty elaborate and only listens a tiny bit shorter than the vivid nod to questing warriors "Follow Your Heart", a song that is loaded to the brim with shimmering keyboard-driven atmospheres and flashy guitar gymnastics. These are the sort of songs that stand toe to toe with the strongest works found on Dragonforce's Valley Of The Damned, yet edge them out a bit by being a bit less solo obsessed and more song oriented.
During the mid 2000s when the unofficial competition between this band and Dragonforce came to a head, some were questioning why Power Quest even existed given their massively similar approach to their better known counterparts, but this line of questioning betrays a superficial understanding of musical progression, especially when considering the radical differences that exist between these two bands at present. Although Sam Totman was a valuable contributor to this band's early material, it's pretty clear even within the context of these songs that he and Scott Williams had very different musical visions, with the latter being a bit less focused on gimmickry and flash. This isn't to say that one is better than the other or that the gimmickry of Dragonforce is necessarily a bad thing, but more so that subtlety plays a more active role in Power Quest's formula, and this is perhaps best exhibited in these songs, and particularly the off-kilter atmospheric bonus instrumental "Gates Of Tomorrow", a sort of mellow, atmospheric ballad that Totman wouldn't ever bother with on his own time up to the present date. It may all be a matter of taste, but whether seemingly synonymous terms like power and force are in opposing title, the flavors come off as quite unique.
(Rewritten on September 24th, 2016)