Dark Moor - Between Light and Darkness - 2003
While Prog enthusiasts while be reluctant to let Prog Metal be considered a part of the progressive rock scene, they will be even less likely to consider Power Metal. No matter how symphonic or how well done the music is - and some of the power metal coming from Germany and Italy is excellent – this type of music is far too simple in song structure to be considered progressive.
However, there are bands that are putting elaborate arrangements together and there is enough complexity in the execution of their music to make some Progressive Rock fans turn their heads. One band that is doing such music is Dark Moor from Spain. And of all the CDS that the band has put out, the most versatile and one of most interest has to be “Between Light and Darkness”.
The band has put out two full studio albums and one EP this year. It has been a very busy and productive year for its members, which include the new vocalist Alfred Romero, guitarists Enrik Garcia and newcomer Jose Garrido, bassist Anan Kaddouri, and new drummer Andy C. The classical influence has always been a part of the band’s style, but on “Between Light and Darkness”, the band incorporates a small orchestra of session musicians to add significantly to the classical elements of the music.
But the aforementioned line-up is not the same that recorded this album. In only few months three members left the band, so here the vocalist is Elisa C Martín, the drummer is Jorge Maroto, and one guitar player is Albert Maroto. Elisa´s voice is a higher pitch, reminding one of Rush’s vocalist Geddy Lee or Tai Phong’s Klank. Though Elisa has plenty of nuance and inflection, she doesn’t have the traditional power metal voice. And this is good. This allows the band to explore more melodic textures and on this album their flare for beautiful melodies becomes apparent. Several acoustic versions from previous works graces the opening half of the album.
“A Lament of Misery”, “From Dawn to Dusk”, and “Memories” are traditional power metal ballads with languid melodies and sophisticated arrangements. “Echoes Of The Seas” is almost purely classical, with strings and harp. Again, the arrangements are excellent.
“Mistery of Goddess” reflects the traditional power metal side of the band. It begins with a pretty piano intro, then bursts out with power chords and string backup helping to create a symphonic atmosphere. The vocals are melodic and engaging. It is a superb song.
“Shadow Of The Nile” speeds things up and the strings add an exotic element to the song. There is some excellent acoustic/classical guitar parts before the song explodes into old-form power Dark Moor. This song also utilizes a choir backup to embellish it. Though, melodically speaking, this song is not one of the best, it’s lush arrangements makes it an enjoyable listen, especially to fans of bands like Therion. “Dies Irae” is a magnum opus of nearly 10 minutes in length. It adds keyboards to the sophisticated array of classical instruments and choir backup. Like Therion’s work, this approaches territory where metal truly becomes progressive. If there is a criticism it is that the dense instrumentation and vocals muddy up the sound. Such an abundance of things going on in the song cannot be clearly discerned.
The same is NOT true for “The Fall of Melnibone” which is over ten minutes in length and has a far sparser sound. I love the intro, which includes flute and some superb orchestral arrangements. The song breaks into a heavy gothic metal that is as powerful as it is energetic, then explodes into a speed metal run until the end of the song.
Do I love Dark Moor? From this review it could be easy to see that I do. I do have to divide the rating to a slightly lower level for progressive purists however. Because no matter how good metal is, it can never rival the diversity and dynamics of the classic progressive rock style that borrows from all elements of music, not just from classical or hard rock. From a metal rating point of view, the album deserves four stars and a half.