Review by Rick Ossian
On first listen to this latest missive from the purveyors of “Adventure Metal“, Twilight Force, I am struck by the grandeur of it all. Pomp and circumstance is most definitely the order of the day when it comes to Heroes of Mighty Magic, the second full-length work from our heroic men of Twilight Force. Their first was 2014’s Tales of Ancient Prophecies. It’s all very triumphant, and the recording is chock full of chanting vocal refrains sounding like monastic choirs, loads of lead guitar shred-fests, and plenty of drumming to go with the mixture of classical and power metal. There are also mounds upon mounds of widdling, as one might presume with something this unabashedly Proggy.
Twilight Force claim that their home is the Twilight Kingdom, and their personnel is as follows: Chrileon on lead vocals, Lynd on electric and acoustic guitars and lute, Born on bass, Blackwald on keyboards, piano, violin and cembalo, De’Azsh on drums and Aerendir on guitars. Imagine the blokes from Trans-Siberian Orchestra meeting up with, say, Manowar, while Dream Theater and Symphony X take up seats in the wings. Oh, yes, and we throw in all but the kitchen sink on most tracks, even bells (literally) and whistles before it’s all over.
For example, on Battle of Arcane Might, our senses are assaulted by lots of guitars, angelic, powerful vocals, big rhythms on the bass and the drums (a powerful indeed double-bass delivery from De’Azsh), and all manner of light-speed shredding from the guitar duo masters. There is also an enormous crescendo at the close, which, as we shall see/hear, is quite definitely a pattern on these tracks.
Powerwind sounds like it could be music from King Arthur’s Court, of all places, and is another all-out assault as the drums and bass pound us into submission. There are also LOTS of keys and BIG vocals (again, a pattern for our boys it seems), and classical shredding intermixed with big instrumental breakdowns, shifts, and even full stops at times.
Guardian of the Seas is a track featuring a nice violin intro, soon giving way to triumphant vocals and monks chanting. The instrumental breakdowns are often reminiscent of classical interlude. The use of light and shade, quiet and loud are almost incredible in their gracefully textured applications. Strings obviously play a large role in the overall presentation here.
Flight of the Sapphire Dragon (at least 5 cool points should be awarded for title alone here) is another with the flute/violin intro, the monk chanting-style vocal delivery on the refrains, a VERY busy drummer (kudos, De’Azsh!), and a veritable instrumental attack at more than one point. LOTS of quick shredding on display here again, as well as the big vocal/instrumental crescendo that graces most of these tunes.
So far, we’ve been dealing with mere 5-minute (or thereabouts) masterpieces – not so with our next track up. The monster epic There and Back Again is a full ten-minutes-plus leviathan of the same stuff we’ve already been hearing thus far. I paused a moment before the inevitable double-click, almost as if having to prepare myself for what was to follow. Once again, the classical interludes are regularly employed, for better or worse. There is also much to listen to in terms of triumphant, acrobatic at times, vocals. A much-coveted item (the crystal of destiny) is also alluded to in the lyrics. Once again, it’s all VERY triumphant. Magical narration is afoot, but we’ve only cracked the surface – listen/read on!
Riders of the Dawn features a big, LOUD intro, and more of the same pompous stuff from before, only dialed slightly back as we’re in the 3-4 minute range now. “Fighting legendary creatures” is the task of the day, and we get loads of widdling to go along with it, of course. Another busy drumming session, another BIG finish. Some definite patterns are developing here.
Keepers of Fate includes an ominous intro, and we all know how much I love those! Nimble fingers on the guitars laying down a couple of solos and more BIG drums and bells and super swift shredding, along with more chanting and a big finish. Sound familiar?
Rise of a Hero features a beautiful classical intro with lots of keys and violins and such. There is also a LOT of drumming, as we’ve come to expect from the skin-bashing D-man. There sounds like a bit of female vocal in there as well, which can be refreshing, but here it’s almost beyond our notice unless one is paying carefully close attention. This track is one of many wherein it seems our heroes are racing to the close. Classical interludes abound, and before we know it we get our big crescendo and finish.
To the Stars is, alas, more of the same, but somehow it all works. Indeed, there are times when it works rather well. Unfortunately, there are also moments when I began to wonder if it was all worthwhile. The futility of repetition can sometimes wear on one, after all. But no matter – plenty of triumphant vocals and loads of widdling guitars, keys and violin. Plenty of big drumming also, and lets not forget to throw in a couple of our classically-themed interludes. The musical breakdowns I’ve heard normally include jazzy-rocky-bluesy jams, but these are mainly classical in orientation and delivery.
The title track is up next, and it’s another big one, nigh on ten minutes. There is vocal narration, briefly, on board here again, and lots of the same thing(s) we’ve already been hearing, so there are times when I admit it would have been refreshing to just hear an all-out metal attack with a big guitar riff (à la Sabbath), and NOT all of the bells and whistles. But, as I often do, I digress. The point of this is the repetition of it all will begin to bog most listeners down by this point in the journey. Therefore, I beseech thee, dear reader, to hang in there. We’re almost home!
Epilogue is quite possibly the best example of Metal spoken word that I can recall hearing in some time. In point of fact, it is the very first time I can recall hearing one go one for so long. A full six-and-a-half minutes, in fact! It is very prophetic, of course, full of warnings to heed and prophecies to consider. A good story, told by an excellent narrator, and full of kings and queens and wizards and their untold sorcery. A bit out of place, but interesting and fun to listen to.
Our closer for the day, a very short (1:45) requiem of sorts, entitled Knights of Twilight’s Might, is just that. It is a big crescendo with big vocals and an even bigger arrangement. It is indicative of what we’ve just heard, and contains all of the elements from before, only dialled considerably back for the sake of time constraints. In closing myself, then, I’d like to say that this ‘Adventure Metal’ has been an adventure indeed for my listening pleasure. So, if you like your rock/metal big, pompous and very indulgent, then Twilight Force is for you. Don’t delay, it’s been released already! Also, for those of you who like to go to shows, Twilight Force will be touring with labelmates Sabaton and Accept in 2017!