Dark Moor - Dark Moor
By now Spanish Dark Moor should be a band that needs no further introduction but some major changes have occured. First of all something of minor importance and that's that there's no Andreas Marshall cover this time. The bigger matters are events that have taken place the last eight months that perhaps haven't come to everybody's attention. Majorly due to different opinions about the musical direction of the next full length release the band split up. Three fifths of the line up, vocalist Elisa C Martin, guitarist Albert Maroto and drummer Jorge Saez decided to leave Dark Moor and have since then formed their own new band, Dreamaker.
Enrik Garcia and Anan Kaddouri remained and after some hard auditions, Dark Moor had a complete constellation again when Alfred Romero (vocals), Jose Garrido (guitars) and Andy C (drums) thereafter became the new members. With a complete group again, Dark Moor entered New Sins Studio in August (2003) and began the recordings of their self-titled fourth album. The album is produced by the band and Luigi Stefanni and mastered by the by now notorious Mika Jussila at Finnvox studios. The result is of course splendid and finally finally I have it in my possession.
The press release states that Dark Moor is more intense, more original and heavier than previous releases and I have to say that for once the information is quite true. The biggest difference between the old and the new Dark Moor though, is of course in the vocal department. Alfred Romero wasn't exactly assigned an easy task when he now has to shoulder the heritage left by the amazing Elisa. After having heard the album for the first time I thought he did a fairly good job and some 10 rotations later I'm changing that statement and proclaim that he performs way better than I possibly could have wished for. He may not have as much originality and give the sound as much of a trademark that Elisa did, but his voice grows with each spin and Dark Moor have done very well in their vocalist recruiting.
Romero sings more along the "we've heard it before routine" but I also fully understand why Garcia and Kaddouri recruited him to the rest of the troops. He still has that little extra something and Dark Moor will remain in the symphonic metal champions league with him in charge of the use of vocal cords. There won't be so much of a void left by Elisa as I had feared and as much as I mourn her demise I praise the arrival of Romero.
But it's still the compositions that continue to totally blow me away. Enrik Garcia was the main song writer on the previous albums too so the track material's still of the noblest class possible. He's once again managed to find those brilliant metal solutions and packed another album full of magnificient tracks. The sound this time around is a bit more aggressive than on previous albums and there are some slight progressive tendencies on some occations too, but overall the symphonic Dark Moor is still the main concept. Harpsichords, completely amazing solos, magnicificient choirs and long epic choruses succeeds one another along the so familiar Dark Moor concept. Among the professional choirs that have participated during the recordings even a female one can be found. The result of this is very good and the choice to have a female guest soprano, (Beatriz Albert), is also something that adds even more of that little extra in several of the tracks.
The lyrics deal with topics from historical events, famous characters from literature and also of course more fantasy emphased themes. Cyrano de Bergerac (amazing track), Philip the Second (epic killer) and the Count of Montechristo (A Life For Revenge, first class opener) are among the most well known characters of a literary turn. Tracks more based on the fantasy theme are The Ghost Sword and of course the outstanding album closer and title track, The Dark Moor. The chorus of the last one is one of the better the band's ever composed and in the lyrics we get re-acquainted with both In the Hall of the Olden Dreams and The Gates of Oblivion.
I just love this kind of thinking and that's also what makes a band rise above their competition. Everything is carefully and professionally arranged. All details from lyrics, to music, to classical arrangements, to where and how to use the choirs, to instruments, to vocals, etc is welded together in a single whole and according to me only the true geniuses of the genre have this gift. As usual the lyrics are also built up on rhymes and despite that they use so simple rhymes like dog- fog and mute- fruit it, isn't any makeshift rhyming at all and Dark Moor's narrative skills are exactly like everything else- fantastic!
If you like symphonic power metal and also the Dark Moor of old you won't be disappointed this time either. The magic is definitely still there and Enrik Garcia has once again written some real fantastic songs. This man's enormous musical brilliance truly deserves huge amounts of recognition. I gave The Gates of Oblivion the highest grade possible and even if Dark Moor doesn't quite reach the levels of an utter masterpiece it's just a notch below. This band has impressed me something immensly so far and to summarise I'll use the lyrics from the chorus of the title track that really says it all: Dark Moor, Dark Moor, welcome to the Dark Moor!