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Dark Moor > Dark Moor > Reviews > TheHumanChair
Dark Moor - Dark Moor

Their Dark Days Lie Deeper in the Moor - 85%

TheHumanChair, September 21st, 2022

Dark Moor's best efforts were positively when Elisa Martin was with them, and even though they're a joke of a power metal band now, that doesn't mean they got that way immediately upon repopulating the band. In Martin's place, Alfred Romero stepped in. Romero does a fantastic job. He doesn't try to replicate Martin, and does his own thing. His voice is still very good, and he has a lot more theatrics in his voice. On this album, he definitely hasn't locked down a style fully yet, and there is a lot of female backing vocals as if to try and not bankrupt the fans of the Elisa Martin sound instantly, but he's a terrific vocalist.

No, Romero has little to do with the downfall of Dark Moor. In fact, I'd go as far as to say he's the only decent thing ABOUT Dark Moor at present. It's songwriting that got the band in the laughable state they're in at time of writing. And on their self titled album here, the songwriting is still as good as you'd have expected from the band's prime two albums. Dark Moor got a little less fantasy sounding on this record and started to get more theatrical instead, but it really works with the way the songs are structured on this record. In fact, I'd go as far as to say this album is barely, if at all, a step down from "The Hall of the Olden Dreams." Of course, it can't live up to what "The Gates of Oblivion" was, but very few power metal albums can.

In fact, there are still some songs on this album that sound like they could have fit right in on either of the older two albums. "Eternity" has all of the elements the last two albums had. The keyboard sound is very similar and sets the table for Garcia the same way. Now, Garcia doesn't maintain his same blazing pace and insanely technical playing the same way, and gives Romero a lot more room to spread his wings on his own. Romero really shows off the height of his vocals on this song, and the orchestration on the track is used to fill gaps created by the melodies. "The Ghost Sword" has some of Garcia's more complicated riff work on the album, and it follows a similar structure to "Eternity," but he's much more involved on "The Ghost Sword." The track has a solid groove and a strong and emotional chorus. Once again, the band's decision to go more theatrical is more obvious with the orchestration, but on this track, it's also only used as atmosphere and to fill natural gaps made by the track's structure, which is how I think orchestration works best in metal. These are two very enjoyable tracks the album has to offer.

"From Hell" is the single from the record, and probably my favorite. The female backing vocals are especially strong on this song, and even the way the vocals float from pretty to intense is reminiscent of how Martin's vocals used to flow. I've always suspected that this song might have been partially written when she was still part of the band, but I have no proof to back that up. Garcia's riffs and solo on this song are some of his best. They have a darker and more brooding mood to them than his usual riff that make this song feel quite different. Romero nails each mood the song is going for so well; keeping pace with the emotion of his voice with the music. The chorus is also fantastic on top of it. "A Life for Revenge" starts the album off right, too. It's a good summary of what the new Dark Moor delivers in general on the album. The orchestration on the track is a lot heavier than on tracks I mentioned previously, and the melodies from the orchestra are almost taking the place of what Garcia's riff might have been instead. Garcia is really just going through the motions on the record, but the orchestrated melodies and Romero's absolutely amazing vocals make up for his lack of a presence. So much of the success of this song is riding on Romero, and he delivers. "A Life for Revenge" easily could have ended up as a dud due to how heavily its reliance on these two elements were, but they both delivered, so instead the track becomes a very worthy addition to the album.

The title track sounds like they found a way to enter Danny Elfman's brain and pull out a track sleeping in there. This song could have EASILY been in a Tim Burton film. It's a VERY heavily orchestrated and theatrical track. It's a track that definitely would make the metal purists out there seethe, and while I definitely wouldn't be thrilled if the band suddenly had taken this direction full time, as a stand-alone track, this one is quite a bit of fun. If you like this kind of song, it's worth its length. It has a lot of transitions that keep it fresh. This is about as good as a super theatrical track can get. It retains the bare minimum of what would be needed to call it a metal song, but it's undeniably fun. "The Bane of Daninsky, The Werewolf" is a very underrated track from this album. Garcia has some REALLY catchy riffs that layer super nicely. The riff comes back for the chorus, and the two together make an incredibly memorable experience. It's a chorus that I find myself humming for hours after listening to it once. The verses also have a FANTASTIC ride cymbal pattern from the drummer that gives the verses a unique feeling for the album, and adds a bit of a tense atmosphere to it. This song definitely deserves more credit from power metal fans.

"Cyrano of Bergerac" is where the album slips the most, in my opinion. For the record, I'd still take this song any day over a vast majority of the band's entire later albums, but it's not a great track. Garcia is really just holding the fort down with uninspired riffs all over the track, and the melodies all over it sound pretty random. They don't really progress very much. The orchestration, again, tries to help the song along, especially on the chorus, but the songwriting just leaves too many loose ends for it to tie together. The song is also quite long, and turns into almost a show tune a little after the halfway point with a female vocalist singing like she's trying to lay down exposition during an opera. The song just doesn't work. "Return for Love" is also a slight step down in terms of quality. It's still a solid song with a fierce groove to it and a fine chorus, but it feels underdeveloped to me. It's got the most basic verse-chorus formula and doesn't bring much else to the table. "Return for Love" could have definitely been a much better song with more care taken to the songwriting.

Dark Moor went on to show with the release of this album, that even when a band gets repopulated, and a beloved singer is replaced, that it doesn't spell the end of the band yet. Romero is still with Dark Moor to this day (at time of writing), and is a great singer in his own right. If you gave up on Dark Moor just because Elisa Martin left, you really should give this record a shot. It's extremely good on its own. The real shame was to come later, because unfortunately, the band could not keep up this pace much longer at all.