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Onward to the land of flying islands! - 80%

hells_unicorn, June 14th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2015, Digital, Independent (Bandcamp)

The mid-2000s metal landscape was definitely far more conducive to a more AOR-leaning brand of power metal, so it is somewhat fitting that a band coming out of said era would first find their calling in covering the works of a band like Def Leppard, as was the case with the Slovakian-based Eufory during their formative years. However, where they've gone in the time since the close of the 2000s that culminated in their first original opus Flying Island Eufory is a fairly different matter, at least when compared against the likes of the more hard rock-infused mainstays of the former era in Masterplan and Edguy's work from the latter part of said decade. The musical result isn't so much a repudiation of the late 80s iconic rock influences of Whitesnake and Skid Row per say, but more of a nuanced amalgam of the iconic arena sound of the 80s with the millennial power metal sound that tapered off a few years after said point in time. In short, this is a band that has kept a strong traditional heavy metal rooting in their sound as they venture into the more fantastical world of Sonata Arctica and Stratovarius.

Arguably the most refreshing aspect of this album and this band when compared with the now heavily cliched AOR-style that dominated the scene until just a few years ago is the looser and somewhat more spacey production sound they've adopted. Taking a path that is arguably the mirror opposite of the Andy Sneap approach of accenting heaviness and impact, this is an album that is far more atmospheric in demeanor, arguably drawing the closest comparisons that the latest Cryonic Temple outing Into The Glorious Battle. To be clear, this isn't a blazing speed metal-infused album after the same mold as the Swedish act in question, and the vocal persona of Ľuboš Senko has a wider range that bears more resemblance to the soaring wails of Armory front man Adam Kurland, or for a better known example, former Threshold vocalist Damian Wilson, a far cry from Joe Elliott to be sure. Add into the mix a fairly dense keyboard backdrop and fairly regular employment of a piano, and the picture presented here is a blend of metallic fury and atmospheric splendor that is quite unique.

Things unfold in a manner fairly typical to the way they might had this album been released back in 2002, with a keyboard dominated prelude that functions as a segue into the opening and arguably most energetic song on the album. Just about any unsung power metal upstart from the early years of the new millennium from Montany to Gamma Ray took the same basic approach that is seen on the title song "Flying Island Eufory", though the speed metal elements are a bit less intense and bears a greater comparison to the faster songs on Mob Rules' Hollowed By Thy Name. The only other certified speeder to be found on here is the somewhat more NWOBHM-infused rocker with a dense keyboard background "Book Of Life", otherwise, the presentation here is decidedly slower in tempo and more rooted in a rock/metal vibe. Eufory's affinity for their former object of tribute Def Leppard comes into full focus on the AOR-leaning anthem "Cheers", while much of the remaining material on here sort of dances between that semi-ballad character of post-90s Iron Maiden that has likewise been adopted by Mob Rules, though the atmospheric aesthetic is a bit more misty.

Overall, this is a very skilled outfit with a particularly strong duo of guitarists that actually venture well beyond typical rock/metal norms and occasionally emulate the shred-happy signature styles of Malmsteen and Impellitteri. The only real flaw in their approach is the lyrical content being a bit hit or miss, with this band seemingly unable to commit to a consistently fantasy-based approach, or otherwise able to avoid those awkward party metal fits of mundane to downright vulgar wordings that comes off as completely out of place on an album like this. There aren't really any weak points as far as songwriting goes, as even the somewhat comically named "Metal Is The Hero" turns out to be a catchy banger that is loaded with plenty of impressive guitar gymnastics. Any one who is a fan of the more rocking character of the millennial revival outfits in Domain, Crystal Ball and Silent Force will find a solid album here, whereas the number of traditional heavy metal enthusiasts looking for a heavier sound might find this a bit too keyboard-dominated for their tastes. There may yet be several tales left to tell about the mythical flying island known as Eufory, and hopefully the lyrics will stick closer to it next time.

This review is dedicated to the memory of Christopher Santaniello, aka Diamhea. (R.I.P.)