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Enjoys sorcery and walks on the beach. - 90%

hells_unicorn, June 12th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2017, Digital, Spinnup

There is a certain magic to the marriage of power metal and high fantasy storytelling that rarely fails, regardless of whether the author is a seasoned veteran with multiple decades of experience or a fold of newcomers that are just beginning to emerge from the underground. Truth be told, lately there has seemed to be a greater level of competency on the musical end of things from the younger upstarts of late, as a number of newer bands have been unleashing highly impressive albums via the digital medium by modest means and without label support. Among the latest entries to coming screaming out of Sweden, in the melodeath capital of Gothenburg no less, stands a highly ambitious and polished fold in Age Of Glory that brings all the essentials to the sonic battlefield. Their independently released EP The Dawn Of Heroes could not have been more aptly named, as it showcases a multiplicity of heroic metal sub-genre elements that bridges the gap between the film score steeped majesty of Rhapsody Of Fire and Twilight Force with the folksy deeds of Ensiferum and Equilibrium.

Like a pummeling bolt of lightning from the cloudy sky, this collection of auditory tales thunders in at full throttle with both barrels blazing. In contrast to a lot of the more established acts of both yesteryear and present, this album opts to attack the enemy with a heavy, ground pounding speeder and title track The Dawn Of Heroes that features the guitars in a more prominent role than the orchestral patches from the keyboards, along with a lead vocal sound that has more of a mid-ranged tenor/baritone flavor that would be more readily associated with the non-death metal infused folk metal outfits Tyr and Turisas, yet with a smoother demeanor that comes off as more operatic. Nevertheless, the orchestral elements play a massive role in shaping the medieval knight visual that the band is going for, particularly during the bridge section where the interplay between instruments comes more involved, just before the obligatory sweep-happy guitar solo that mirrors the past exploits of Luca Turilli and the subsequent choral section closes things out while channeling the massiveness of Ensiferum's Iron.

The progression of this album proves to be even more unique of an experience, as the band shifts through a number of period influences that mirror their symphonic and folk metal forerunners. At first things seem to shift in something of a hybrid folk meets neo-classical/Baroque feel with "A King's Immortal Tale", which mixed as noodling harpsichord line with the heavily orchestrated pomp and folksy melodic material. The flavor becomes a bit more subdued and serene with the ballad and duet "Valiant Knight", which features an assortment of acoustic guitar and harp lines before moving into a more bombastic yet still generally restrained celebration of medieval romance. Probably the biggest deviation from standard symphonic power practices comes into play with "On The Last Shore", which is the most involved offering to be found on here, but definitely leans a lot more heavily on the Jari Mäenpää influences and goes into full blast beat mode at a few key points, aka sounding a bit less Rhapsody Of Fire and a bit more Wintersun (minus the harsh vocals).

Things roll to a riveting conclusion on a decidedly unexpected note, likely due to the exodus of original vocalist Simon Hultin from the fold prior to this EP, as closing song "Divine Fury" features an entirely different lead vocalist that is far more conducive to stereotypical symphonic power metal practices. To put it plainly, former Seven Thorns vocalist Gustav Blide sports an airy, nimble, high-end tenor that is so perfectly melded to the characteristic sound of the French and Italian power metal scenes that should either Fairyland or Alex Starapoli's Rhapsody Of Fire find themselves in need of yet another lead vocalist, he will definitely warrant careful consideration for the job. All the same, it would be an equally good idea for Age Of Glory to retain his services on a more permanent basis given their current lack of a front man. Whether one be a stalwart Viking sword-bearer or a more chivalrous knight of the European lands further to the south, these five anthems will sing to your exploits with the best of them, so open thy ears and thy pockets so another song may be sung.

This review is dedicated to the memory of Christopher Santaniello, aka Diamhea. (R.I.P.)