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Welcome to the Hall - 75%

calderabanuet, August 2nd, 2013

Power metal has become boring, particularly the symphonic, hyper-arranged one. The resource of relying on fancy orchestrations is now sadly clichéd. I understand and almost support haters these days, I mean, how not to hate a million bands that have been sounding the fucken same for more than ten years or even more? However, back in 2003 we weren’t fed up with such acts, right? At least I wasn’t.

Now, perhaps for the rest of the world Spain is just another Spanish speaking country, furthermore, “Europe ends at the Pyrenees”, right? Well, for us, Mexicans, things are different, and musically speaking these two countries have always been related, even to the point that for the most ignorant part of gringo society Mexican and Spanish cultures are the same. Metal is not an exception; ANY Mexican metal-head knows for sure a bunch of bands from the peninsula which probably include Barón Rojo, Ángeles del Infierno, Mägo de Öz (which could or couldn’t be considered folk metal, depending on the listener’s prejudices), Tierra Santa, Saratoga and even Machetazo.

If you go over the list above (except Machetazo and MdÖ, of course), you’ll notice a clear tendency from these gachupín acts to play a rawer form of 80’s metal and SOME hints of proto-power-like stuff. Dark Moor are different though, quite different; they’re just too refined! At least in this work, they are. For their first three releases they went for a female singer, Elisa C. Martín, trying to perform regular power metal vocals… FAIL!!! For “Dark Moor”, the album, it’s Alfred Romero who performs male not very manly vocals, and hell, ‘twas an improvement! I think the not-very-manly-vocals thing has to do more with the attempt of not changing the prior sound THAT much, rather than Alfred’s natural tessitura. Whatever the intention was, what is absolutely clear for me is the guy CAN sing, and very proficiently if you ask me.

Alfred’s most theatrical vocals even encompass a couple growling moments in “From Hel” and my fave track, “The Dark Moor”. By the way, it’s precisely because of this majestically written song that I’m positive dark moor as a concept refers to its meaning as a boggy high exposed area, dark for this matter, rather than the ethnic connotation of the word moor. The song itself is an opera rock piece that creates a fantastic landscape where an unknown traveler has a sort of supernatural experience. Too bad DM didn’t go for a whole concept album! Sadly, the rest of the songs don’t seem to be related amongst them thematically.

What is to be found along the album is exactly the same elements that I’ve pointed out in the tracks mentioned before: a power metal base, symphonic arrangements, the work of a semi-virtuoso guitar player, male vocals that stand alone for their flexibility, melodic bass lines, and a songwriting work that qualifies as average to good without excelling except in the main song. But what about the drums, uh? Unfortunately, there’s a huge lack of presence when it comes to the subject of drum playing. This is very typical to melodic metal releases, though. Thumbs down for that.

To sum up, Dark Moor have been a very irregular band, while “Dark Moor” is a pretty strong album. I’d even go as far as saying is their best effort so far. It’s got its little sins, it’s true, but they aren’t really significant. Still if you don’t love the genre, it’s quite enjoyable as was thoroughly well done.

Originally written for

Beyond the gates of oblivion lies paradise! - 98%

Oakenson, April 30th, 2010

No one ever said changing vocalists was easy, especially when you're one of the most well-known melodic metal bands of not only your home-country but, also, of the whole scene in general; indeed, after Elisa's departure, Dark Moor was in quite a tough spot regarding fan satisfaction (amidst other things), that's for sure, and there's no doubt that the pressure was on ten-fold for their debut album with Mr. Alfred Romero behind the mic. Aye, it's a story we know thesedays, as the band's self-titled record came out a good seven years ago and, with three additional albums under their belt with Alfred on vocals (all of them quite masterful, by the way), it's undoubtedly a transition that worked, however, such success does not (or shouldn't, at any rate) cast a shadow upon the band's "nova era" and, as I see it, Dark Moor's self-titled effort is, by far, their most underrated album.

Outside of the obvious change in vocalists, the band decided to progress their sound into a slightly heavier, moodier, more orchestral (in the film-score sense), less neo-classicalish direction which, for me personally, was okay since, as I see it, no one can take away the brilliance of albums like The Hall Of The Olden Dreams or The Gates Of Oblivion and, frankly, if Dark Moor were STILL releasing albums identical to those two, well, they probably would have inevitably lost their touch by now. Nevertheless, the band shifted gears a bit, opening up a new chapter whilst closing another and, as to be expected, the reactions were mixed, which is where I pleasantly come in with my own two-cents of the whole affair: bloody awesome!

A Life For Revenge, perhaps the album's "safest" track (sounding the most reminiscent of old Dark Moor, whilst still breathing heavily the breaths of fresh air), opens the album as a total victor, showcasing Alfred's dominant vocal capabilities as well as, to be expected, Mr. Garcia's undoubtable compositional abilities. All-in-all, a great opener to swiftly and successfully bring in the winds of change. Other highlights include The Bane Of Daninsky, the album's third number, which features a prominent gothic/horror-esque atmosphere that is a total win in every regard; the juxtaposition of heavy guitars and rhythms with atmospheric keyboards works extremely, extremely well here, and once again is more-than-noteworthy evidence of the band's brilliant arrangement capabilities. From Hell is a very strong, catchy and melodic number with an awesome harp-synth throughout the verses that, to these ears, is quite magical. The Attila saga (being broken-up into five magnificent parts), Philip The Second and Cyrano Of Bergerac are all grandiose and epic, adding profoundly to the album's depth and quality, however, the crowning jewel upon the diadem is ...

The Dark Moor! - what a song, friends! - aye, a song mighty enough to warrant its own paragraph, indeed. As is to be expected from a song named after the band itself, a certain degree of both quality and definition is to be expected and, with this particular track, the band truly have outdone themselves, crafting what is EASILY one of their best songs, right along-side the likes of Nevermore, The Silver Key, Maid Of Orleans, Dies Irae and so on and so forth whilst, in essence, perhaps even eclipsing all of the aforementioned tracks (though such a claim widely depends upon one's individual taste, of course). Beginning with a sort of classical movement that is almost waltz-like and quite gothic in the classic, literary-sort-of sense, the band immediately transports the listener to a darkened fairytale world, utilizing all sorts of orchestrations and choral-arrangements along the way. The heart of the song is, of course, not so much the brilliant orchestrations or the powerful riffs but, rather, the arrangement and composition itself which is, as made quite apparent by now, completely magnificent and moody within all its splendor and bravado! ... yup, a totally genius song that is better heard than read about, certainly.

All-in-all, both Dark Moor and their namesake album are first-rate examples of power metal and, despite the obstacles that the band was up against at the time of the album's release, they undoubtedly conquered without changing but, rather, progressing (there's a BIG difference between the two); the band never sounded so unified up until this point into their career and, with Beyond The Sea, Tarot and, most recently, Autumnal now under their belt with Alfred, Dark Moor are truly stronger than ever. Highly, highly recommended to fans of Dark Moor, power metal and, as to those who have never heard these fellows before but are interested in doing so, a perfect starting point for it's the transition from the old to the new, thus showcasing elements from both eras quite splendidly; brilliant!

Losing the singer is no excuse for this treachery. - 5%

thammaren, September 13th, 2008

Dark Moor's old singer decided to part ways with the group to create her own effort, Dreamaker, with two other members of the band. She has left Dark Moor in ruins. The new singer is good, but his voice is new to Dark Moor's fans, and it feels like the band has had its head cut off.

The style of Dark Moor is still the same genre-wise, that neo-classical metal feel is still there. But the band's efforts are terrible, the songs are all boring, often as much orchestra as they are metal. (Though I would not call this a metal album.) Some examples would be Amore Venio (which is performed only by a choir and a small orchestra arrangement) and The Dark Moor, which feature melodies that would perhaps go well with a corny stage adaption of "Peter And The Wolf". However, they are not what you would expect to hear from a band like Dark Moor.

If the previous three albums were "neo-classical metal", then this is "symphonic rock". There is no harshness to the vocals, they are all spoken softly by new singer Alfred Romero, who often sounds like a preteen boy. The band uses a choir this time to back up every single chorus, and also occasionally an entire song.

The only track worth listening to on this whole overlong record was "A Life For Revenge", which was the first thing I had ever heard by the new singer. It prompted me to keep listening. I shouldn't have. If you are going to buy this album, (that is, you want to hear it) go and get it for free somewhere. No one should have to pay for this disgrace to Dark Moor.