Twilight Force - At The Heart Of Wintervale review
|Album:||At The Heart Of Wintervale|
|Release date:||January 2023|
01. Twilight Force
02. At The Heart Of Wintervale
04. Highlands Of The Elder Dragon
05. Skyknights Of Aldaria
06. A Familiar Memory
07. Sunlight Knight
08. The Last Crystal Bearer
09. The Sapphire Dragon Of Arcane Might is Back Again [Digibook bonus]
10. Skyknights Of Aldaria [orchestral version] [Digibook bonus]
11. The Last Crystal Bearer [orchestral version] [Digibook bonus]
In case you've ever wondered if there was a genuine clone to Rhapsody Of Fire, well here's one right here: Twilight Force. However, is this band a suitable representation for the embarrassingly satisfying symphonic power metal genre, or simply yet another proven gimmick you should understandbly turn your back on?
This is At The Heart Of Wintervale, the fourth release by Twilight Force (not DragonForce), and not to be confused with a parody for Immortal's At The Heart Of Winter, this is anything but. It's strictly a symphonic power metal album set around their own fantasy soundscapes, with lyrical themes mainly centred around dragon slaying. Pretty cliche I know, but who doesn't like tales of dragon slaying, wizards and all things fantasy, right?
Understandably, symphonic power metal isn't to everyone's taste, especially for most extreme metal heads who will more than likely cringe from the mention of the genre. If you're familiar with this band's previous releases, you will know by now what to expect; yes this album comes with the usual cheesy over-the-top lyrics, epic symphonies, and catchy instrumentals, all of which is massively overproduced just to top it off. At The Heart Of Wintervale should be everything against what true metal stands for, but there is always another side to things. If death metal and black metal is your thing that is totally fine; if you're more of a light-hearted person that's fine too. Perhaps you're an open-minded kind of guy like me, who doesn't mind a bit of cheesy power metal once in a while alongside the more extreme stuff, and that's completely fine too. I guess At The Heart Of Wintervale is an album you will simply like or you won't, but hey that's metal for you.
The songwriting is overwhelming, to say the least. The melodies are super rich and never dull for a second, and the use of instrumentation and synths is incredibly varied throughout and impressively constructed, from the epic symphonic orchestra, to the catchy keyboard synths, and from the shredding solos and epic riffing, to the powerfully effective vocal performance and narrative sections. This album simply has it all; it really does sound like a perfect soundtrack to a classic Disney film in parts, so not to everyone's taste, but the skill and performance is undeniably brilliant.
It's common that albums such as this can't go without an epic ten-minute-plus track, and here there are not only one, but two pushing past that ten minute mark, being "Highlands Of The Elder Dragon" and the closer "The Last Crystal Bearer". Both tracks contain the usual epic symphonies, outrageously delicious melodies, and impressive array of instrumentation, many with added medieval effect. Excluding a short interlude, the rest of the album contains short, fast, catchy tracks being four to five minutes in length, tracks so melodic and flowery that they're over in a flash before you know it. Each track could easily be single material, but with no particular track standing out above the rest as such; each track equally contains memorable moments.
As symphonic power metal goes, At The Heart Of Wintervale is certainly a good one; it might even be Twilight Force's best work, however unoriginal it seems to be. Come end of the year, I believe this could be a contender for best in the symphonic or even power metal category, and yet still won't be to everyone's taste; that's the beauty of metal.
||Written on 22.01.2023 by|
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