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The ongoing enlightenment of team USA. - 90%

hells_unicorn, September 12th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2007, CD, Independent

Stereotypes are an unwelcome visitor in today's world, and yet they can't help but stick around in spite of the protesting masses for they do tend to carry a bit of truth. Apart from the derisive label of "flower metal", the revival of power metal that took much of the world on the eastern side of the Atlantic by storm was known as the Euro power scene, denoting it as an exclusively European phenomenon. Naturally this fails to take into account the contingencies that were going on in places like Japan, South America and even a few token acts out of the U.S. such as Kamelot and Symphony X that were seeing more success touring Europe at the turn of the millennium anyway, but as a rule of thumb it was an appropriate label. A bit later the trend began to reverse a bit, not so much because old stalwarts like Metallica and Anthrax suddenly decided they weren't too cool for metal anymore (that happened about a decade later), but more so thanks to a new generation of independent metal acts like Cellador and the New England based powerhouse Armory.

At times there is a bit too much made of the similarities between the two aforementioned bands, though they do draw heavily from Europe's example in terms of style and released their seminal debuts at a time when many bands in the old world were getting bitten by the AOR bug. Perhaps the chief distinction is that Cellador was heavily oriented towards the exaggerated speed and flash of Dragonforce, whereas Armory originally took to more of an epic and drawn out approach where speed and flash are definitely a factor, but take on more of a mainline flavor that hints at the melodic grandeur of early 2000s Sonata Arctica and Edguy, as well as a more traditionally oriented Iron Maiden bent at times. The best way to sum it up would be that the Mid-western based Cellador was definitely sporting a more Americanized take on things with an eye towards emulating the British model of yesteryear, whereas Armory is definitely one to be mistaken for a stereotypical German band, with Saidian and pre-2002 Edguy being the specific brands under consideration.

Song for song, The Dawn Of Enlightenment is a bit of a task to get through, if for no other reason than that it is a very length and detailed culmination of musical effort. The familiar elements at play definitely aid in making it an inviting listen though, as Adam Kurland's all but identical sounding emulation of Tobias Sammet gives even long-winded balladry that hint at Hammerfall like "Forever Triumphant" a needed dose of energy. Others such as the gallop happy and near 8-minute long "Heart Of Dreams" owe a bit more to the Helloween inspired dueling leads and keyboard noodling of the other members involved, resulting in a fun-filled hybrid of Piece Of Mind and Keeper Of The Seven Keys Pt. 1. Truth be told, every song found on here contains some rather impressive fits of technical wizardry between the guitars and keyboards, with particularly noteworthy moments being most of the instrumental "Forged In Dragon Flames" (which also shows a rather impressive display from the drums) and the multifaceted nod of Iron Maiden's "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son" on speed of a title song "The Dawn Of Enlightenment".

About the only criticism that can really be thrown at this album is that it embodies just about every possible cliche that was rampant in power metal about 5 years before its release, though given that Armory was founded during that time it is understandable. Songs like "The Eyes Of Time" and "Faith In Steel" come off as so unapologetic in their majestic fanfare that one might guess that Freedom Call and Edguy had a love child and then left it to fend for itself at Plymouth Rock. But that is also this album's greatest charm, its an unfettered power metal celebration straight from the same area that was saturating what was left of the American metal scene with cookie-cutter metalcore bands, offering an excuse not only for Americans, but all of us sad east coasters that had been languishing here since the New York speed/thrash scene died. Sad little cynics may dismiss this as derivative, but any power metal warrior who has felt forlorn for their present abode will quickly find themselves riding the cosmic winds the second that this starts playing.