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Ancient Bards - The Alliance of the Kings
CD Reviews
Written by Doctor T.   
Friday, 21 January 2011
Ancient Bards - CD Review
The Alliance of the Kings
Ancient Bards - The Alliance of the Kings

CD Info

2010
Limb Music Products - SpiritualBeast / Universal

10  Tracks

English/Italian Lyrics

 

The Italians are sure into this Fantasy thing; you seem to see it with a lot of their music, female fronted and other. I’m a big fan of Rhapsody, Skylark is hard to ignore and we’ve covered a few others here on the Zine. Most are a little easier to get in touch with than this bunch, they aren’t real media savy or else maybe they just don’t feel it necessary to respond. . . or maybe English just isn’t their thing. But you get nowhere trying to contact the band or their label, so deep insight won’t be a part of this review.

But the music is difficult to ignore. Its tight power metal, with a heavy dose of the symphonic, using the occasional choir and featuring a soprano of considerable talent, the lush blond Sara Squadrani. It’s at the high end of the symphonic power metal curve, whether you appreciate the fantasy direction or not. If not, just don’t pay attention to the lyrics and go with the music, it’s that good.

There are more than a few videos out there, including this one which should be sufficient to get you in the mood. One of the interesting highlights is the overt use of the bass, something you just don’t usually get as a solo instrument. But here, it just seems so fitting. The other guitars ain’t bad either, and all seem to fit and flow around the symphonics in masterfully synergistic display of musical integration and contextual dexterity. The choral components add that otherworldly feel that just can’t be approximated any other way. They seem to use two of them, one called the Epic Choir, the other the Barbarian Choir, nice. You just can’t overdo the choral work in music of this kind; it’s pretty much essential. And to go from power metal, to a choral selection and then directly to the full symphonic over the lovely vocal is about as good as it gets musically, and it happens often in song after song. And it happens fast, you just don’t really get a chance to take a breath; the musical waves just keep flowing over you like a screaming hurricane from one song to the next. But, should you think this is a trick of the engineering department, watching the band live suggests they can pull this musical excellence off at any time, at any place, live or in the studio. Check this one out.

Alliance of the Kings is, as mentioned above, a fantasy theme put to music. There is word that is the first in a multi CD production, so expect some follow up. We begin with a spoken word introduction over a lush orchestration that puts us in the mood:

The story I'm about to tell you,
happened long ago,
in a land far from here
It is not yet time for you to know about its genesis...

As we move forward, the theme becomes clear, even if the English is heavily accented. . . in a kinda cute way.

Sendor,
the supreme dark wizard,
came to know about the existence of a mysterious sword
that gave its holder Absolute Power:
immortal life,
unbelievable strength
and knowledge of all magic.
Noone knew about the sword
except the four kings
from the four corners of the world.

You know, I think I remember this story from my substance abuse days in the Haight, but then, who really remembers any of the details from those days. Anyway, following this ethereal introduction, we get down to business as the guitars begin to crank, the synths begin to scream and the lovely vocalist begins the complete story.

The vast majority of the music in Kings is strong symphonic metal, hard and driven. However, the band takes us on a lovely journey to a slower waltz in the charming Lode al Padre. This one counts as the beautiful, and beautiful it is. Again, we get the full monte of styles with the initial lines being driven by the vocals over a soothing piano. But, in the blink of an eye, we move to the full orchestration, then to a Middle Earth, almost folk direction before cranking the axes to remind us where we are. But we return to the lovely, this time sung in Italian, without an accent we can assume, and to the same quality of beauty:

Il nostro cammino è appena iniziato
ed ora il gruppo è stato formato
e suoneranno trombe
acclameranno il tuo nome
il nome che non conoscerà mai il dolore!

If you read the initial reviews regarding this work, you quickly recognize the significance of this production. Praise is overwhelming, and richly deserved. And it’s not just the Italian press making that praise. Music of this caliber is easily recognized for the excellence it represents. The sophistication of the music, the originality of the production, the outstanding vocals and musicianship cannot be overstated.

The Rhapsody comparisons will, not doubt, be made. But there are some significant differences. First and foremost, of course, is the guitar work. These guitars don’t always lead the parade; they sometimes serve to blend different components. And the keys are generally more involved than in the Rhapsody work. The themes may be similar, very similar in fact, but the approach to telling the story is different. We don’t have Christopher Lee of course, although there is the occasional male vocal that makes a surprise appearance. It’s just not a big deal.

The overwhelming reaction to this music is the feeling that you’ve been taken down a million musical roads, with a million musical styles in the 58 minute running time without time for a break. And, when it’s all said and done, you feel really GREAT about the event. You may not be able to follow the story line but you can sure follow the music, and that’s probably all you need. And when it’s finished, and you’re asked what you thought of it you just don’t know where to start. There’s a section in Farewell My Hero where Squadrani goes into a completely different singing style, something that hasn’t been heard before and you’re stopped in your tracks wondering who changed the CD. But then we return to the epic symphonic and you’re back in the flow, and Squadrani’s vocals return to the standard, and truly beautiful, style from before. It’s this musical magic that makes this a truly unforgettable voyage. You may, or may not, appreciate the story line, but it’s pretty much impossible not to appreciate the musical vehicle presenting it.

One of the highlights of the year, count on it.

9.5 / 10

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