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The spring that preceded fimbulvetr. - 80%

hells_unicorn, September 13th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2013, Digital, Independent

Discovering a band because of their latest studio offering and then working one's way back offers a fairly different perspective on things, beyond simply avoiding the anticipation and possible disappointment at any change in direction. Insofar as the international but largely Swedish sounding Parsifal is concerned, the author of this review ended up missing out on the reward of anticipating and discovering an improved formula by hearing Heavy Duty prior to sampling the less developed yet still quite powerful debut Here From The Past. Then again, the very apt name ascribed to this album takes on new meaning as this proves not only to be a past work being enjoyed after the band's latest incarnation, but also an album that is far more centered in power metal's rich and somewhat more distant past, namely the turn of the millennium period when the style was arguably both at its qualitative and popular peak.

As alluded to earlier, the title of this album is quite fitting, as it merges two highly influential forces in the early 2000s into one cohesive sound, namely that of Dragonforce and Falconer. Truth be told, what is going on with this album is fairly similar to the hybrid that was pulled of not too long after between Dragonforce's hyper-paced, uber-melodic sound and the melodic death metal sound of Children Of Bodom and Kalmah that was Crimson Shadows' Kings Among Men. The game of notes is a dead ringer for the flashy yet generally straight-lined and non-effects dominated sound of Valley Of The Damned, while an assortment of folksy elements interplay with the music in the forms of token flute, organ, piano and various other sounds. Further driving the obviousness of the influences involved here home is the somewhat less polished yet clear emulation of Mattias Blat's crooning, Broadway-like vocals courtesy of Oscar Pelin.

In arguably the most unsubtle display of power metal heroism imaginable, things proceed on a high octane, flash and hook-drenched note with a barrage of fairly similar sounding yet memorable anthems. Among the pack, "Legend Within", "Here From The Past" and "Unfold" stand out the most, bombarding the air with an unrelenting array of tech-happy strains of notes and drum machine-like precision based speed beats that come off fairly similar to Dragonforce debut favorites such as "Blackfire" and "Evening Star". The bass work even proves to be a bit more active here at a few key points relative to what typically comes out of this subset of power metal, though it does pale next to the dueling lead segments that are maybe somewhat less video-game tinged than Herman Li's usual fair, resulting in something that could be chalked up to Sam Totman having a lead duel with himself.

The only points where things really deviate from the all speed, all the time approach that dominates this album, see a band that is a bit more folk inclined. The ballad "Forever Till Dawn" forgoes taking the Dragonforce influences to their logical conclusion by offering a sort of spacey clean guitar driven drinking song romp that eventually ends up in a climatic heavy point that tends closer to a purely Falconer based influence. On a less subdued note is the occasionally driving, occasionally blazing number "Traumatic Lullaby", which is more of a power metal anthem but wheels through some occasional quieter breaks and a recurring folksy flute theme that doesn't really lend itself to the same formulaic, Helloween on crack sound that dominated the first half of the album. It doesn't go too far beyond providing a slightly different take on this otherwise two-trick pony, but it proves effective.

This is the sort of album that will play a bit more to mainline power metal fans who like things kept simple and to the point, particularly ones that prefer their metal to follow a squeaky clean approach perhaps best embodied in acts like Power Quest and Ascension. It makes for a very fun listen, but also one that isn't quite as geared towards repeated listens as their more multifaceted and even more intense follow up Heavy Duty. About the only thing about this band that really cries rustic, apart from the fact that they have continued to remain an independent entity with fairly limited exposure, is their nature-based album art. Behind it all is a band that is about as over-the-top in execution as all of those earlier acts that featured elaborate high fantasy and Sci-Fi artworks as only Limb Music, Steamhammer and company could provide.