Review of the 2009 Studio Album Autumnal by Spanish Power Metal Band Dark Moor
Dark Moor's Autumnal Album Gets Mixed Feelings From Me At Least Initially
Spain’s most well-known power metal band Dark Moor has been around since 1993-1994 and impressed us with well-crafted power metal songs and had great songs such as Lovers. However by 2009, they may have entered their weakest point musically with their album Autumnal. Dark Moor has a tendency to over rely on the thundering power metal riffs with that neoclassical influence and since Elisa Martin left the group in 2003 the group initially showed that they could still be somewhat decent without her. But with Autumnal, I get the sense that there is something missing here.
The First Five Songs Weren't Good Enough On First Listen
“Swan Lake” starts off this album and it’s got that classical kind of feel to it. Dark Moor should be given at least some credit for trying to make things somewhat interesting. However, the vocals of Alfred Romero are uninspiring here. He also does not have the range of a vocalist such as Fabio Lione. The guitar riffing and sound isn’t as muffled as Rhapsody of Fire though. Does it mean that Autumnal is a horrible power metal album? Not necessarily but it just isn’t that usual Dark Moor greatness that fans were used to hearing in the albums The Hall of the Olden Dreams or The Gates of Oblivion. “On the Hill of Dreams” we hear the band softening the riffs and Romero tries to sound like he can extend his voice but once again, he just comes up short. “Phantom Queen” has this sort of synth style beginning as the music gets into this soft mid-tempo pace. The song lyrically describes a queen that represents love, pain, and warfare, acting like a tyrant. So far, through these first three songs, I am not impressed enough. Dark Moor tries too hard to soften the riffs in the attempt to offer us something different. What happened to the massively catchy riffs that we heard in songs such as Maid of Orleans? “An End So Cold” continues to follow this formula as something just does not fit musically. The song tries to tell us that a woman’s love ends up being cold. Even though power metal and classical music join forces and unite on this album, the riffs are a shadow of what Dark Moor used to write. Even Elisa Martin’s former band Dreamaker is better than what is offered here on this album through the first five songs. Even though Alfred Romero was never going to be able to replace Elisa Martin, Autumnal represents his weakest vocal job so far. Was he not even trying to do his best? Is he losing his range?
Autumnal The Second Half Is Better Than the First Half
The good news is that not the entire album Autumnal is a wasted effort. The second half of the album settles down musically as we have a good symphonic song “The Enchanted Forest” and the riffing is mid-tempo in this song and some of you may think that this song isn’t really power metal but Dark Moor may have redeemed themselves in the second half of this 2009 album. It certainly is more enjoyable to listen to all the way through compared to some thrash metal releases but that’s a different story. Spain has proven to be a good nation for power metal along with Italy and Brazil to a lesser extent overall.
Autumnal Through the First Full Analysis
Even if Autumnal is a step down musically for these Spanish guys, most bands have their down periods. As with any musical album, our views of it can change over time or they may not but even so, Autumnal ends up being an average release by one of Spain’s most famous bands. That is the perspective that I get through the first full listen of this album.
How Is Autumnal As a Album Through the Second Full Listen?
Some albums can take a while to get used to so we are reviewing Autumnal for a second time through. Listeners such as I can notice that the song Swan Lake is constructed based on the classical piece by Russian composer Tchaikovsky. The symphonic sounds are there and Dark Moor is at least playing like a power metal band. But Swan Lake still isn’t a great song. But the classical ballet song by the great Peter Tchaikovsky is one of the most well-known classical pieces of all time. That’s not to say that Swan Lake is a bad song as we go through this album a second full time. The concept in the song was a good idea and it does sound like a power metal tune but it is very tough to duplicate the original piece in power metal style. There is a noticeable kind of Gothic rock influence too especially when we get to the song An End So Cold. It sounds kind of like Finnish band For My Pain but there isn’t that sorrowful feeling in the song like we may have head from For My Pain. The song called Don’t Look Back is based upon the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. I remember that story from the Greek mythology as his lover was bitten by a serpent and sent down to Hades. Even if the same elite level of songwriting isn’t there for Autumnal, it isn’t so bad of an album that you feel sick to your stomach. Fallen Leaves Waltz is a classically influenced instrumental song that ends this album and usually Dark Moor would begin their albums in past years with a classically influenced instrumental song but this time the process is reversed. The neoclassical influence in Dark Moor’s power metal is still there but it needed an extra wow factor to be one of Dark Moor’s best works but even so, for the avid power metal fan, Autumnal is a decent album.
© 2019 Ara Vahanian