Saturday, September 3, 2016

Twilight Force - Heroes of Mighty Magic (2016)

There was a time in metal when literally every new power metal band out there would come out and draw inspiration from the medieval times. The stories of dragons, knights, castles, and other stuff involving that age seemed endless, like they would never go away. In time though, they did fade out of existence, and the few bands that survived was simply labeled as cheesy clichés. This brings up the following question. Why the hell does Twilight Force, a 5-year old band from Sweden, sound so god damn refreshing?

The medieval power metal genre has certainly gotten a resurrection, and Twilight Force (and also Gloryhammer) are the ones to thank. They released their debut record "Tales of Ancient Prophecies" in 2014, and while it was a little cheesy, it was still a lot of fun. The power and passion of that record made me smile every time, and it is definitely one of the most memorable power metal releases in recent years, so obviously, I expected great things from the Swede's sophomore effort.

"Heroes of Mighty Magic" is just what you would expect from the band, a pure continuation from "Tales of Ancient Prophecies". While most is the same, there are several improvements that the band has made. The production is slightly cleaner, the performance is tighter, and the overall flow of the album feels much smoother than what it did on its predecessor.

But one other thing that has increased is the cheesiness factor. "Heroes of Mighty Magic" is a ton of cheese, and fortunately for us, it is closer to fondue than the stinky kind. The cheese is a part of the genre, so I really do not mind it that much, but Twilight Force has so much of it here that you start to wonder if they are secretly running a huge cow farm in their spare time. It is so much that it some times takes away from the music in itself, which of course is not a good sign. Just take this line from "Riders of The Dawn" for example.

Run, we will run, with the power of the sun

It is just stunning how cheesy this is, and yet so catchy and fun. The fun ultimately over weighs the cheese, making this album more bearable.

Most of this cheese comes from the fact that the band has implemented more of the medieval theme into their music. It is incredibly theatrical and grand, but I cannot really say that it is better. At some points, like in "Rise of A Hero", the music sounds like it was taken out of Robin Hood, and I am not talking about the live action movie with Russell Crowe, I am talking about the animated Disney movie. People have called Battle Beast's music Disney metal at times (for reasons I do not understand), but this is way more accurate I would say. But hey, it still kicks ass, and I can guarantee you all that Disney movies would be way more interesting if Twilight Force made the soundtrack (just imagine that rooster playing those solos).

Enough heckling on how child friendly the music is, because the fact still remains that the music is of good quality. It may not be as memorable as in the predecessor, but it is still enjoyable power metal. The opening track "Battle of Arcane Might" is amazing, a speedy knockout blow that gets you in the right mood from the get go, "Flight of The Sapphire Dragon" is just pure magic, which is not surprising since the very same dragon fronts the album cover, "To The Stars" has a fury that I think only Dragon Force can match, and even with its 10 minute length, "There And Back Again" stands as one of the more consistent tracks of the album, and the band does get some good help from Rhapsody of Fire's Fabio Lione as well. So yeah, it is not hard to find any good songs here.

While the cheesiness factor is almost too much too bare, Twilight Force has succeeded in delivering a nice follow up to their debut record. "Heroes of Arcane Might" is an enjoyable power metal album that has a lot of positive attitude and passion to it, but it also has some flaws that certainly keeps it from being brilliant. There is no doubt that Twilight Force is a special band, reigniting the flame that was almost put out among the medieval power metal genre, but they still have some way to go before reaching the highest mountains.

Songs worthy of recognition: Battle of Arcane Might, Flight of The Sapphire Dragon, There And Back Again

Rating: 7,5/10 Keepers of Fate

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