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A Very Promising Debut - 85%

CreeepBeepBoop, February 21st, 2009

Originating from France, the up and coming instrumental folk metal quartet Arcas deliver one hell of an epic musical journey in a very original take on such a beautiful genre with their debut demo A New Dawn. Needless to say, I was instantly reeled in by the visually appealing cover art and didn’t hesitate on listening since this can be downloaded for free off of the band’s myspace. And, surprisingly, this lived up to my musical expectations, capturing my mind and placing it in the middle of a fantasy tale of sorts. While just a debut, this album still exhibits each member’s astounding composition skills and instrumental prowess, and the use of folk influence and Celtic elements adds savory melodies so catchy that you’ll be whistling along to the folkish rhythms in no time (a perfect addition to any Eluveitie or Turisas fanboy’s collection).

The opener ‘Let the Journey Begin’ starts out with a melodic Spanish-style guitar intro, with a symphonic backdrop sprinkled on top that locks in rather nicely. Suddenly, BAM! In comes the powerful guitar riffs and drums, kickstarting this musical ride into action. The Celtic instruments provide an emotionally-moving main melody to catch your attention throughout, and in comes the keyboard virtuosity a bit after the 1 minute mark (Come to think of it, I really love Quentin's style overall). The guitar solo close to the end is quite entertaining as well, and the 3 minute mark makes way for a bright power metal-style melody which altogether stands out as one of the more uplifting tracks on the album.

Moving along, we have ‘A Night to Remember’, centering its attention toward the catchy flute hooks which might prompt you to get up and tapdance along with it (it sure tempted me to!). At this point, the album alternates between tracks that try to implement a relaxing mood (Unexpected Hope) and those that showcase the instrumental talent of the band and serve as straight-up shredfests (Into the Rhythm of the Drums). There are some interlude tracks scattered throughout that make use of the piano/acoustic/orchestral-elements but they are negligible for the most part. Out of all the tracks here, I think my favorite might be the ten minute epic ‘Sinister Fate’, a three movement tune that packs in much variety and shifting of the aforementioned elements. The middle section where the piano rolls in and settles you down before the guitars and drums highlight a climactic moment is to die for!

The only beef I had listening to this was that the guitar tone isn’t the best out there, and sticks out in a few spots, but the production can’t be perfect; it is a demo, after all. However, this likely won’t bother you, as where else can you find sweet musicianship from such an underground outfit just starting off? Again, it's free (and can be fully streamed) so there's no reason to not try this out. I’m fairly positive any fan of the beautiful folk metal genre will find joy in this, and those who fancy instrumental music should at least give this a shot. It may not be for everyone, but as a follower of this genre I can say that this was undeniably a fun and intriguing listen. I wish this band the best of luck in the future, as their potential shines all over this record and I’m sure many would be begging to release a debut quite like this!

Thank you Arcas, for a real musical treat. 85 percent out of 100.