Grimgotts – Tales Review

Score8/10
GenreSymphonic Power Metal
CountryEngland
Runtime20:04
Release Date1 May 2020
Record LabelIndependent

England’s best adventure metallers have returned from across the sea, bringing with them all the noble majesty of the dragons of old. The mighty Grimgotts have been hard at work to deliver a new EP, having released their sophomore album, Dragons of the Ages, just last year. Entitled Tales, it contains four imaginative tracks that, while sounding a bit more touched-up, stay true to the nautical/storybook/power metal combo of Grimgotts sound.

Like their previous works, each of Tales‘ four tracks rings with bombastic optimism, cheese, and keyboard insanity (ok, maybe not insanity, but they’re soooo fucking good). Additionally, the guitars, drums, and keyboards all keep things exciting, rarely settling into a single lick for too long, and frontman Andy Barton continues to lead the way with his deliberate mid-range pipes. One of the first differences I noticed about these songs, though, is the vocal layering in the choruses. On top of that, this album also comes off as more symphonic than Dragons of the Ages did, and the backing tracks sound more refined, but, hey, maybe that’s just me.

(Think THAT’s hot? You should hear their music!)

The most impressive aspect of Tales is its variety. The songs, all close to the five-minute mark, have multiple sections and a there’s good degree of dynamism, especially between songs. As far as specific songs go, it’s tough to pull favourites from such a short tracklist, but ‘The Dawnbringer’ slightly wins it for me. The keyboards are extra cheesy and the guitarwork is a notch above the other songs. But then, the solo section in ‘Fight ’til the End’ is pretty fucking sweet. Honestly, it doesn’t take much for me to be happy with an album; just throw in some flying synth solo cheese and a couple facemelters and we’re good. (Just kidding, it takes more than that (Except not really (?).).)

Anyway, if you were already a fan of Grimgotts, you’ll love Tales. Conversely, if you aren’t a fan of Grimgotts, maybe you should get your ass in gear and check them out, especially if you dig the likes of Atlas Pain, ShadowStrike, Freedom Call, or Power Quest. AND, if you REALLY like Grimgotts, you can look forward to two more EPs by the end of the year. Yeah. How’s THAT for modern music consumerism?

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Twilight Force – Dawn Of The Dragonstar Review

Score9/10
GenreSymphonic Power Metal
CountrySweden
Runtime01:18:24
Release Date16 August 2019
Record LabelNuclear Blast

Gather round, children, to hear magical tales of fantastical whimsy! Now fronted by the famed Alessandro Conti, the mighty Twilight Force is back with their third opus, Dawn of the Dragonstar. After parting ways with their previous vocalist, Christian Eriksson (who recently just released his debut with his new brethren in NorthTale), the merry men have lost none of their vigour or valiance, yet again producing another glorious album that is as fresh as a new day!

As you can expect from Twilight Force, Dawn of the Dragonstar is full of unlimited, overblown, storybook energy. With the exception of maybe two moments, the album is consistently happy and heroic from the very first seconds of the galloping ‘Dawn of the Dragonstar’ into its final note. This hyper-melodic, smile-demanding work isn’t all sheen and shine, though; there’s an absolutely staggering degree of talent and proficiency to behold in every track.

The guitars, helmed by bandmates Aerendir and Lynd, produce intense riffs (when they aren’t busy with their fast chugging) and facemelting solos that would make even Herman Li a bit jealous. The drums don’t sit still literally ever, and the constantly-changing grooves add as much emotion to the music as the shining, Disney orchestrations. Along with the majestic, nearly-operatic vocals of Cont-er, should I say, Allyon, this force of the twilight is worth twice their weight in gold.

There’s also a ton of variety to enjoy, as many of the songs have certain musical themes attached to them; ‘Thundersword’ sounds like wild-west-meets-medieval-knights, ‘With the Light of a Thousand Suns’ brings the heat like the dry deserts of the Middle East (complete with a sick dumbek-driven instrumental section), and tracks like ‘Long Live the King’ and ‘Valley of the Vale’ bring a more familiar, choral, Western European vibe. But then we have the twelve-minute ‘Blade of Immortal Steel’, which is in a fucking realm of its own. Aside from the tastefully-integrated Chinese folk instruments, this is unmatched epic power metal, in all its major pentatonic glory. It’s dynamic, it’s larger-than-life, the long-ass solo section is simply ridiculous, and the chorus still gives me goosebumps. This track is easily my favourite on the entire album because it scratches every musical itch I have.

I did not expect to like this album as much as I do. While I did really like Heroes of Mighty Magic, Tales of Ancient Prophecies didn’t quite do it for me, so I was expecting something similarly hit-and-miss. But nope, this album fucking kills and it puts me in a happy mood almost instantly. Complete with four “bonus” tracks, Dawn of the Dragonstar is a truly sophisticated symphonic metal album. Twilight Force have outdone themselves this time!

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