Arwen - Memories Of A Dream
Arise Records
Angra - style Melodic Power Metal
11 songs (50'05)
Release year: 2002
Arwen, Arise Records
Reviewed by Marty
Surprise of the month
Memories Of A Dream is the debut album for Arwen on the Arise label (Dark Moor, Freternia, Vhaldemar). Not content with not being able to reproduce all of the studio sounds in the live situation and refusing to use any sort of sampling, this Spanish band actually consists of 8 members. There are 2 guitar players, a bass player, a drummer, 2 keyboard players and 2 vocalists (male lead with female backing vocals and occasional lead vocal). Sound busy? I can't image squeezing this band onto a small stage with eight people and all the equipment necessary for their live shows!

The sound of the band can be categorized as a very melodic Power Metal style with some progressive elements. In fact, if you like Angra (especially some of the softer side of the band) then you'll probably like this band as well. They have a striking similarity to Angra's style (especially the Fireworks album) but don't really sound like a copy-cat band at all. They add their own unique touch and the result is a very enjoyable album. Musically, there's lots of fast and speedy Power Metal riffing with lots of guitar/keyboard runs and fills giving the band a touch of a Neo-classical sound. A very warm, uplifting and rich texture is created by their music and overall it has a very spirited and "happy" feel to it. I refer to bands such as Angra, Helloween, Heavenly and Freedom Call as having the "happy" sound or "Happy Metal" as I like to call it. This band is a little more on the epic side than the aforementioned bands and also put a great emphasis on vocals, backing vocals and vocal layering. Lead vocalist Nacho Ruiz sounds very much like Andre Matos (Shaman, ex-Angra) both in style and vocal range, but the extra touch of backing female vocals brings the concept of melodic Power Metal to new heights. His voice also has the likeness of Brad Delp from Boston fame and some of the vocal melodies and choruses sound like the rich textured vocal style on most Boston albums. Lots of great lead guitar harmonies round out the band's overall sound quite nicely with most songs being melody driven and the rhythm guitars are kept in check with the overall blend of the band's sound.

Aside from providing some truly wonderful backing vocals, M. Carmen Casano has a great voice herself and we hear some lead vocals from her on a couple of tracks. This really adds an element of versatility. Lots of bands now are taking advantage of just how good a blend of both male and female vocals can be (especially in the Gothic Metal genre) and Arwen opens up many doors now for themselves by experimenting with this. Aside from Nightwish, there aren't too many Power Metal bands with both male and female lead vocals.

This album really starts to kick into gear about three songs in. The first track, Transcendental Overture is a symphonic overture with some nice piano work and the second track, Dreamland being a sort of average melodic Power Metal track, didn't really capture my attention. Starting with Between Love And Pain, this album really starts to shine. They really create a warm atmosphere with their music and play well structured and very uniquely arranged songs. They certainly don't sound like this is their debut album! I wasn't quite sure about this band when I first started to listen to this CD, but after a few tracks, the quality of this release just draws you in and you stop being a critical reviewer and become an anxious listener, just savoring everything you hear. It's great when that happens with a brand new band that you've never heard before!

Aside from a couple of mediocre tracks and a production that could be a lot better, this is a very encouraging release from this band. They have the sound, the style and the technical ability of seasoned veterans and I find this CD growing on me a lot. I really look forward to following the career of this band. Like I said, if you really like Angra and that style of melodic Power Metal, pick this one up, I'm sure it will satisfy!!

Killing Songs :
Between Love And Pain, Time's Gate, So High and At The End
Marty quoted 78 / 100
Other albums by Arwen that we have reviewed:
Arwen - Illusions reviewed by Jay and quoted 46 / 100
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