Dark Moor - Autumnal
Scarlet Records
Epic / Symphonic Melodic Power Metal
11 songs (47'22")
Release year: 2009
Dark Moor, Scarlet Records
Reviewed by Erik

The Spanish power/melodic metal mainstay Dark Moor is back with their seventh studio album, Autumnal. Perhaps the "mainstay" bit is how this band could be summed up. Through several lineup changes (including that most difficult of all, the lead singer), they remain overall generally consistent in their offerings, which is a positive trait for a band to have. Few things will scatter and dismiss a fan base sooner than inconsistency, or constantly trying to re-invent your entire sound.

Fortunately, Dark Moor have an excellent, speedy melodic/power metal sound, usually with great orchestration to accompany, and Autumnal is no exception. In fact, what might stand out the most on this album, in addition to Alfred Romero's constantly-improving vocals, are the orchestrations. Lush and yet powerful, they seem to transport the listener to Broadway and beyond. It feels at times like a big stage production, like Phantom Of The Opera as performed by Dark Moor. The band's basic foundation is here, but there are many special touches to give that bit of extra flavor.

One such touch is the duets with Itea Benedicto, a Spanish soprano soloist and lead singer of the band Niobeth. Her performance on a few of the tracks doesn't steal the show or anything, although her voice is very pleasant, but simply adds an extra element of flair to the mix. Symphonic instrumentation and choral layers are in nearly every song, boosting the epic fantasy feel. Another thing to note is the speed utilized here. It felt as if the last few Dark Moor albums had let some of that pure blazing speed slip away, and Autumnal brings that back with a fury.

Swan Lake starts us off with an immense song, both in length and sound. Based on the ballet by Tchaikovsky, Dark Moor weaves brilliant orchestrations with musical-style vocal lines, underscored by the tight riffing of Enrik Garcia and precise drumming of Roberto Cappa. One thing this band has always been is full of rhythm. They seem to do the start-stop-start thing better and more fluidly than just about anyone in their scene, with the possible exception of Heavenly. From a full tilt, the drumming will simply drop off for a few beats to fill, and then start up again as if nothing ever happened, usually to indicate bridges or time changes. So smooth and effortless!

The closest you might find to a ballad are the slower tracks An End So Cold and The Enchanted Forest, and even those are not acoustic by any means, with the same heavy, full sound as any other track. Fans of the speedy numbers will enjoy Faustus and The Sphinx (the latter for its great chord progressions and Danny Elfman-style film score feel in the verses), but in reality Dark Moor sprinkle a great number of doublebass kicks and extra spurts of random quickness into nearly every song, which helps make them all enjoyable. For Her brings a lot more of that epic Broadway feel to the front, you could almost see the band on a giant stage performing this song to that kind of crowd. Actually, most of the album gives me that sensation.

Closing out the album is the instrumental Fallen Leaves Waltz, which of course fits with the album title. When it comes to thematic material, however, Autumnal is all over the board. Influences on some songs range from ballet, to plays and musicals, to Greek mythology, and some have no apparent inspiration at all. Unlike their previous album Tarot, for example, there is no central subject matter, and that may not resonate with some fans. If you are okay with some randomness, and you are a fan of symphonic power metal such as Kamelot, Rhapsody, the latest Fairyland album, or even Nightwish to some degree, you will appreciate the atmosphere that Dark Moor has put into Autumnal. At the moment, they are back in the studio working on the next offering, and I hope they find that last little piece of magic to push it into the realm of a true masterpiece.

Killing Songs :
Swan Lake, Phantom Queen, The Sphinx, For Her
Erik quoted 89 / 100
Other albums by Dark Moor that we have reviewed:
Dark Moor - Project X reviewed by Joel and quoted 87 / 100
Dark Moor - Ars Musica reviewed by Andy and quoted 90 / 100
Dark Moor - Ancestral Romance reviewed by Kyle and quoted 88 / 100
Dark Moor - Tarot reviewed by Marty and quoted 94 / 100
Dark Moor - Beyond The Sea reviewed by Marty and quoted 79 / 100
To see all 12 reviews click here
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