Review by shadowdoom9 (Andi) for Twilight Force - Dawn of the Dragonstar (2019) Review by shadowdoom9 (Andi) for Twilight Force - Dawn of the Dragonstar (2019)

shadowdoom9 (Andi) shadowdoom9 (Andi) / August 29, 2019 / 0

In a time when fantasy-based symphonic power metal is heading down to its lowest point, there is one band that has helped continue those tales of dragons and wizards, and that band is Twilight Force! Around that time, there were many things that caused the downfall of symphonic and power metal; Rhapsody of Fire is now without Luca Turilli and Fabio Lione who both went on to form the more progressive Turilli/Lione Rhapsody, Wintersun still hasn't released their second Time album, Helloween was too busy with their Pumpkins United World Tour to pump up a new album, and Freedom Call is not exactly taking their power metal seriously. Fortunately, Twilight Force has made up for it by marrying their usual power metal speed and melodic cheer with film-score orchestration the way it was meant to be, already reaching its peak in their third album Dawn of the Dragonstar, the one album many symphonic power metal fans have been waiting for besides Fairyland's Osyrhianta! In 2017, the year I started listening to Twilight Force, the glass-shattering male operatic vocalist Christian (Chrileon) Eriksson departed from the band. Tommy Johansson, lead singer of Reinxeed (later Majestica) filled in for a tour then had to go back to his band. Then in 2018, same year as when I gave up Twilight Force and initially my earlier epic metal taste, just when the search was futile, a miracle happened. Remember Turilli/Lione Rhapsody? That band was formed by Lione after he left Rhapsody of Fire and Turilli after his previous band Luca Turilli's Rhapsody dissolved. The latter band's vocalist Alessandro Conti ended up being left in his main band Trick or Treat, but then when he got to join Twilight Force, it was the best of both worlds, reaching the band's pinnacle of credibility in this 3rd album, faster than Rhapsody of Fire throughout their Emerald Sword saga. His more balanced yet high tenor voice has proven to be more conducive to this technical sound that has more layers than an onion, continuing both sides' journeys through the fantasy realm.

Besides the change of vocalist, some of the ideal endeavors they've planned in the studio are both similar and different to what they've achieved in their first two albums. Those positive alterations in well-rounded symmetry have distanced them away from the overuse of spoken interludes and lack of epics in Tales of Ancient Prophecies and how drawn out Heroes Of Mighty Magic was. Like I said earlier, Conti has a more measured vocal approach, and while there are ultra-high screams, they're used sparingly, allowing his natural voice to shine in epic splendor. And those are just subtle developments, the formula is the same but new and improved, fast-paced shredding anthems blended with symphonic orchestration that belongs to a Hollywood blockbuster soundtrack, delivering one of the grandest metal mixes of symphonic, power, folk, and neo-classical in history, put together with story-like chapters to sound like a fantasy audiobook with metal soundtrack.

Beginning with a brief narration with a brass section, the opening title track blasts off, blazing through fast-paced speed/power metal over mighty symphonic glory. Massive brass strikes like thunder in "Thundersword" continuing the legendary Disney-like orchestration. The delightful melody of "Long Live the King" makes me think of the brighter side of TSFH. "With the Light of a Thousand Suns" is definitely a longer elaborate orchestral metal anthem. Even its bonus orchestral version is a mighty feat!

"Winds of Wisdom" continue the twists in structure and style along with the symphonic grandeur great for the Christmas season. Then we cruise on through "Queen of Eternity" with its relentless riffing and happy orchestration. "Valley of the Vale" is another epic escapade of mighty heights.

"Hydra" is another longer lingering track but continues the melodic sense of fanfare. That song could make a good anime opening theme or another one of John Williams' soundtracks. The band still has their strength picked up from their previous album. The music is epic with gorgeous orchestration, so is the cover art that reminds me of Magic the Gathering. And holy sh*t, that nice melodic guitar solo is amazing! Hail Twilight Force!! HAIL HYDRA!!! "Night of Winterlight" is an enjoyable and passable track. "Blade Of Immortal Steel" is a massive closing epic with its length reigning at 12 and a half minutes, and it can very well overthrow "Keeper of the Seven Keys" as the king of power metal epics, having many ideas thrown in such as solos and eastern elements while, despite all that and its length, still sounding catchy and accessible. Unbelievable!!

In spite of the darker heavier metal genres reigning both the metal community and my metal taste, Twilight Force have made sure that the power metal scene is still around with one of the greatest power metal albums to conclude the 2010s, which shows the band still shining with a different vocalist. Anyone who has stopped listening to power metal during the early 2000s might not be ready to handle at least one overly symphonic song from this album, and needs to catch up first. Anyway, D&D fans and fantasy role-players will definitely enjoy this. So get your pet dragons, blades, and spell-books ready. Dawn of the Dragonstar is a grand epic metal adventure you don't wanna miss!

Favorites: "Dawn of the Dragonstar", "With the Light of a Thousand Suns", "Valley of the Vale", "Hydra", "Blade of Immortal Steel"

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