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With some help from a good friend living in Kent, I was able to get a hold of this Promo for the "Wings of Forever" album, in addition to the original demo which I reviewed a little bit earlier this month. One of the hardest things to do with such a promo is give a recommendation since usually such items become rare quickly and are difficult to aquire by means of back catalog. But obviously a review is in order.
Power Quest's demo highlighted 2 of it's most memorable tracks, which would latter become middle-dwelling tracks on their debut "Wings of Forever". The difference between this Promo and the demo are few, but noteworthy, and consist of the following:
1. In addition to re-recorded versions of "Glory Tonight" and "Follow Your Heart", there is an additional track titled "Gates of Tomorrow" which is also found as a bonus track on the Japanese release of "Wings of Forever", although not on the European release. Though only a 4 minute instrumental, it makes for a very different listening experience.
2. The production on this Promo is a step up, owing to more guitar presence and a more polished job on vocals. The lead guitar lines are more prominent in particular, while balanced out with the accompanying lines, giving it more of a professional feel.
3. The cover art for this Promo is of a unicorn sitting upon a stairway, gazing across a cloudy horizon towards a path, which leads to a mighty mountain at the other side. I have seen this particular illustration before and believe it may be the work of either Robin Koni or some other prominent figure in the fantasy print and painting genre.
One thing that I did not do on my review of the 2001 demo was discuss the particular songs on it, mostly because the ground was already covered in my review of "WOF". However, listening to this particular CD has given me a different perspective on all 3 of these songs, so I will do a detailed review of each individual track.
Glory Tonight (9.5/10) - When I first listened to this song on "WOF" I was only marginally impressed with it, mostly because it followed 2 very climactic songs. But hearing it stand on it's own has given me a greater appreciation of it. The chorus of the song has alot of harmonic intrigue, particularly the interplay between the lead and backing vocal lines. The guitar solos are excellent (especially Adam Bicker's solo), and Scott Williams pulls off some excellent keyboard melodies.
Follow Your Heart (10/10) - If these 3 songs were to function as an album or EP onto themselves, this would be it's climax. Although it does not function as a climactic point on "WOF" the way "Power Quest Pt. 1" and "Freedom of Thought" do, it carries on as a mini-epic would, and amongst the other songs on here, it establishes itself as the main point of interest. It goes through some interesting beat and timbre changes, the keyboards being as prominent as ever, and the chorus is rich with vocal harmony. But for me the high point of the album is Sam Totman's wah pedal driven guitar solo, playing off the melody of the chorus and throwing in some good speed driven lines, much as was done on his 3rd solo line on the DragonHeart demo's title track "Valley of the Damned".
Gates of Tomorrow (10/10) - Stylistically this instrumental track is very different from anything else I've heard out of this band, or anyone else in this genre. At times I feel like I'm listening to Eddie Van Halen playing lines off of the twister soundtrack (Adam Bicker's soloing on this is sheer genius, it is a shame he is no longer in the band), and when the flute and piano solos take prominence, it sounds more like filmscore. The other interesting thing about this track is near the beginning of the song a feminine voice asks "Who are you?", and at the end of the song when a gust of wind blows and the closing piano line begins a male voice responds "I am." After pondering this oddity for a while I've come up with 2 possible meanings for this very minimalistic dialogue. (1) The feminine voice represents a person facing a new day, not knowing what to expect, she asks who the new day will be (meaning what will the future bring. The man's response is the new day coming and with it, the answer, which needs no explanation since it arrives in the form of the new present. (2) Both of the voices could be representative of the 2 forces of humanity that continue it's existence (masculinity and feminimity), and that their union is the gate of continued existence for humanity. But no matter what the meaning, the use of these lines inspires wonder and curiousity, which is what I think and instrumental composition should always do.
In Conclusion, this Promo served it's original purpose well, and that was to give a taste of the grand tale that was the album "Wings of Forever" to a waiting audience. But it also served a secondary purpose that may not have been intended by Scott Williams and his fellow bandmates, and that was solidify them as one of my favorite bands. I can't really recommend this Promo since it will undoubtedly be a rarity by now, but the silver lining is that these songs can all be found on the Japanese release of "WOF", and maybe this review will be the needed ingredient for whomever reads it to make them appreciate the songs that this promo and the album share in common, which ironically don't stand out when coupled with the other songs on the full length release.