As much as I love this band, I have never had the chance to physically own an album of theirs, largely due to financial reasons thanks to importing costs, and the fact that I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of their albums on a North American store shelves unless special ordered. Sadly, it seems Scarlet Records doesn’t get much pull over here. But, my first time was actually back in 2007 with their sixth full-length album, Tarot. “The Chariot” and “Wheel of Fortune” were simply stunning and stick with me to this day, and usually are some of the first songs I spout out when people ask me for good Power Metal songs to check out. Since then, I’ve heard much of their back discography through the use of Youtube and friends who owned the material, as well as have kept up with the albums that followed.
Now, on to Ars Musica. This is an album that just shows how criminally overlooked this band truly is. First of all, the sound is simply amazing, having a crystal clear quality that captures the Power Metal bite perfectly, and accentuates the booming epic levels and classical aspects of the performances. “First Lance of Spain” immediately reminded me of my time with Tarot, really pushing the keyboards to make the song a little more over-the-top than the energy would have presented alone. This does represent a good amount of the material here, though “Living in a Nightmare” sounds like something straight out of some kind of Metal opera, and it’s just an amazing musical spectacle that you can even see play through in your mind. The guitar work is frantic, the atmosphere is dim, and the overall sense of insanity is presented perfectly to sweep you up immediately. But, yet, there are some that just left me absolutely speachless.
“It is My Way” literally made me break down into tears. The beauty of the guitars, the passion in the vocals, the powerful riffs that are uplifting and at times sorrowful, it speaks volumes of pride and sorrow to me in such a moving way that I haven’t heard since “Day Eleven – Love” off Ayreon‘s album, The Human Equation, and that’s saying a lot. There’s also a few songs penned by poet Francisco JosÃ© GarcÃa, and one of them is “Gara and Joney.” I admit, I swear I’ve heard this song before, but cannot find a band having performed it prior to Dark Moor. This is a very passionate song on the grander side of music, and while I didn’t swell up with tears like I did for “It is My Way,” I did obtain a similar warm, fuzzy feeling of joy and happiness over the declerations of love and passion in the vocals, leaving me to look at my fiancee and just smile as the music triggered some of the happiest moments of our relationship, and only fueled the love I truly have for this woman more.
As a fan, I cannot keep quite about this release at all, and much of yesterday was spent spamming my Facebook wall with the various reactions I have had to many of the songs here. As it stands, Ars Musica is easily a contender for album of the year, but it does still have some pretty stiff competition. I’ll get a review of this done closer to release, but I just wanted to express my personal opinions and reactions officially here to help make more people aware of this powerful album that will more than likely end up overlooked here in North America like most of their discography up to this point.