Fans of well produced power metal will definitely get a kick out of Carnagus – Emperor of the Darkness largely in part of its modern, yet not quite polished audio quality. The focus is in all the right spots, emphasizing the deeper riffs and bass chords against the echoing drum kit, restrained vocal performance, and grandiose keyboards that sometimes shift into a progressive direction. Cues from the likes of Rhapsody, Dark Moor, even a little Helloween are worn on the band’s sleeves unashamed, and it’s far from a bad thing. There’s a subtle epic level that works with the mastering to keep it all grounded, offering both attitude and whimsical darkness any fan of heavy metal or Italian power metal values will instantly eat up.
“The Two Bailouts” kicks off with a traditional balls out heavy metal intent, asserting dominance in the guitars before breaking into bouts of darker attitude and a classically inspired chorus with hints of traditional gothic undertones courtesy the additional keyboards. There are other aspects sometimes buried in the compositions that tread into the neo-classical realm reminiscent of what The Trans-Siberiabn Orchestra can offer. “Trapped On the Throne” does make those hidden traits a little more obvious, especially in the start and some keyboard bridges. While there is speed in the distinct leads, a good majority of the speed here comes from the steady double bass kicks outside the main verses, offering one of the fastest and hardest hitting songs of the release.
The band’s aggressive side even bares its fangs at the very start with the darker “The Beginning of the Night”. Take the aforementioned Rhapsody and cross it with Symphony X and a hint of progressive sounding keyboards during a solo, and you have a pretty beefy fantastical battle anthem faulted only by the cheesy combat effects and Wilhelm scream at the end. It’s an intensity that continues on “Eyes Without Life” that does end up on hold due to some odd sound effects that sound like a common expression of a void or warp in a science fiction film. Hell, even “Dark Reality” carries itself with a hint of
Carnagus – Emperor of the Darkness is simply a superb slab of power metal from start to finish without a single bad or filler cut in between. Kaledon get everything right in their accentuation of the instruments in a manner that gives the darker sounding effort enough edge that even the lightest, most upbeat of areas still hold enough strength to become empowering to the listener. It’s a shame that Kaledon hasn’t become a household name in metal across the globe like any of the others mentioned above [unless they are and I’ve just been oblivious], but now is your time to experience what this nearly twenty year strong entity can bring to the table. If you already know who these guys are, then take solace in that this is an album you definitely don’t want to miss out on.