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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.

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