Dark Moor - Ancestral Romance
Scarlet Records
Symphonic Power Metal
10 songs (50:33)
Release year: 2010
Dark Moor, Scarlet Records
Reviewed by Kyle

It may have taken four albums, but Dark Moor’s post-Elisa catalog finally hit a high note with vocalist Alfred Romero on the 2009 album Autumnal. Nearly two years later, the band returns to prove that Autumnal was certainly not a fluke. Ancestral Romance falls under the label of “Romantic Metal” much like its predecessor, yet at the same time the songwriting is more refined and the songs more varied with this release. This is truly the best album that Dark Moor has recorded in nearly eight years, and its release marks the first time I’ve been fully on-board in keeping up with the band since Romero joined.

Mind you, Ancestral Romance isn’t an album in the vein of The Gates of Oblivion. It is essentially Autumnal 2, though perhaps less dramatic in the orchestrations and more complex in instrumentation. The songs are surprisingly varied: while there are excellent power metal stand-bys such as Gadir and Mio Cid, you’ll also find a few surprising gems. The speedy, slightly progressive nature of Alaric De Marnac and the Motorhead-inspired riffing of Ah! Wretched Me are both fantastic, and the cheesy experimental number Just Rock is as much fun to listen to as its title would suggest. A Music in My Soul is the only song present that could be classified as a straightforward ballad, yet its vocal melodies make it a worthy listen, despite making for a disappointing closer to the album.

Ancestral Romance’s title refers to its loose concept (a more accurate word would be theme): All of the songs except for Just Rock revolve around Spain’s culture, delving into various books, poems, and pieces of history. The song Ritual Fire Dance, for example, is a cover of Spanish composer Manuel de Falla’s Danza Del Fuego, and Mio Cid is inspired by a Spanish legend. It is appropriate, then, that this album marks the appearance of Dark Moor’s first song sung in Spanish, Cancion Del Pirata. While this album doesn’t carry many traces of traditional Spanish folk music, there’s more than enough classical influence on show to propel the authenticity of Ancestral Romance’s concept far past being a simple novelty. Each song is performed with enough passion to suck the listener into the stories that each song explores.

The average song speed of Ancestral Romance is around mid-to-fast-paced, but unlike in many power metal bands (and in some cases past Dark Moor albums), beats per minute in no way translates into quality. Love From the Stone is one of the slower songs and is essentially a guitar-heavy ballad, yet at the same time the hooks are strong enough to make it one of the best tracks of the album. Indeed, the quality level here remains fairly high throughout. Tilt At Windmills, a rather yawnsome ballad-type track, is really the only downright poor song on Ancestral Romance; other than this, the album is perfectly paced, expertly balancing melodic accessibility with epic intensity as the best power metal albums do. A crisp, punchy production job provides a tremendous boost in that intensity.

Ancestral Romance shows a diverse and unique take on the power metal, which is interesting as all of the band’s previous efforts were much, much simpler than this one. Personally, I’d love to see Dark Moor branch out even further musically on future albums, but I’m not sure if the band can successfully do so while keeping its signature style intact. However, this album feels like such a confident step in the right direction that I welcome anything Dark Moor decides to accomplish in the future to my ears. It has a couple of weak tracks, but Ancestral Romance as a whole is good enough to be one of the better power metal albums of 2010.

Killing Songs :
Gadir, Love From the Stone, Alaric De Marnac, Mio Cid, Ritual Fire Dance, Ah! Wretched Me
Kyle quoted 88 / 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 - Autumnal reviewed by Erik and quoted 89 / 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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