Just as fantasy is often derided in the world of literature, so too is power metal derided in the world of metal. Both are cheesy, and fully embrace it. Both are prone to pomposity and exaggerated drama. But even the most run-of-the-mill fantasy can be enjoyable, and it is the same with power metal. Thus we come to Twilight Force, and their latest album Dawn of the Dragonstar (pre-order/save here).
Ultimately, there isn’t much that Twilight Force brings to the table that hasn’t been heard before. Taking their main musical cues from bands like Rhapsody of Fire and Sonata Arctica, the band presents thunderous drums and galloping basslines like Iron Maiden on speed, operatic tenor vocals backed by epic choirs that would make Blind Guardian blush, and lyrics about every cliché in fantasy you care to name. This is all presented in such an earnest package you can’t help but enjoy yourself, despite how silly it might seem. Only the most hardened, “trve-kvlt” black metal fan could actively hate an album like this.
This is the “Dawn Of The Dragonstar” and it’s awesome:
That’s because it’s also their best album to date. Die-hard fans may mourn the departure of Chrileon (Christian Eriksson), but his replacement in the form of Allyon (Alessandro Conti, formerly of Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody) is excellent. His singing voice is richer, more well-rounded than Eriksson’s, which got thin and reedy as the notes got higher, thus not quite landing them properly. Allyon, however, delivers high notes with much more bombast, much more passion, and makes them sound much better. They are also more prominent in the mix than on previous albums, soaring high over some truly excellent guitar work courtesy of Lynd (Philip Lindh) and Aerendir (Joakim Leandro Johansson). For a particularly good example, see the excellent shredding on “With The Light Of A Thousand Suns.”
The choirs and orchestra, whether synthetic or otherwise, are also incredible. Blackwald (Daniel Beckman) uses both to great effect, hugely enriching the sound on this album. They sound much more real than on Heroes of Mighty Magic, which goes a long way to making Dawn of the Dragonstar the best so far of Twilight Force’s discography. The listener can really feel the heroic swelling in their chest as the songs thunder on.
Frankly, the only real criticism that can be levelled is that there’s nothing particularly new on display. Everything on this album has been done elsewhere. Luca Turilli and pals were making power metal like this since the ‘90s. Objectively speaking, all Twilight Force is doing is putting a 21st-Century polish on that kind of power metal. The production is sharper and cleaner, the instrumentation is slightly faster, but beyond that, this album could easily have been made twenty years ago. But if that’s the worst criticism that can be brought against the album, then Twilight Force aren’t going far wrong.
The “Night Of Winterlight” can get pretty dark.
On top of all of this, there’s the fact that Twilight Force, and indeed power metal at large, offer the listener a great deal of fun. Yes, it’s goofy. Of course it is. The musicians all play under pseudonyms lifted out of a Dungeons & Dragons game. Their live costumes wouldn’t look out of place at a comics convention. But that doesn’t matter because, ultimately, it’s fun. Dawn of the Dragonstar doesn’t break any genre boundaries, but not every new album has to do that in order to be worth a listen. The musicians are having fun, and the listener absolutely can as well.
Fun, pompous, cheesy, and epic – all things good power metal should be. Sure, there’s nothing particularly new here, but that’s perfectly fine. What Twilight Force offer on Dawn of the Dragonstar is pure, unadulterated fun, and there’s not enough of that in the world at the moment.
Dawn of the Dragonstar Track Listing:
01. Dawn of the Dragonstar
03. Long Live The King
04. With The Light Of A Thousand Suns
05. Winds Of Wisdom
06. Queen Of Eternity
07. Valley Of The Vale
09. Night Of Winterlight
10. Blade Of Immortal Steel
Run Time: 57:21
Release Date: August 16 2019
Record Label: Nuclear Blast Records