Sunday, January 27, 2008

Review: Armory - The Dawn of Enlightenment (2007)

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The Dawn of Enlightenment

Armory  hails from a town northwest of Boston, but delivers a melodic power metal sound that is very European in style. Containing 70 minutes of soaring vocals, galloping beats and furious riffs, The Dawn of Enlightenment  is the debut album from this talented six-piece and offers all you'd expect from the genre. Originally recorded in 2004, the album was re-released in late 2007 after a meticulous makeover that included live keyboards, professional production, and fantastic artwork from Texas-based artist Steve Goad.

While Armory's sound is firmly rooted in Euro-style power metal, they are a far cry from the disgustingly saccharin prancing of bands like Rhapsody. I'm not particularly fond of such "happy" metal, so it is the decidedly American edge to Armory's music that appeals to me. Calling to mind Kamelot and Nevermore, the fantastical elements of The Dawn of Enlightenment are tempered by both an aggressive undertone and a subdued flair that lends a significant punch to the band's technicality. While the first proper song on the album, "Faith In Steel", falls wholly in the cheesy realm of Hammerfall-esque metal, "Riding The Cosmic Winds" is one of the strongest tracks on the disc. A darker guitar tone, combined with In Flames-style drumwork, paves the way for more of what Armory does best - relentless riffs, searing guitar solos, acrobatic keyboard passages, and distinctive vocals. Frontman Adam Kurland is a rarity - an American vocalist who can expertly meet the demands of this style of heavy metal. He possesses remarkable range and a slight vibrato that reminds me more than a bit of Bruce Dickinson. The album comes with a bonus cover of Iron Maiden's "Flight Of Icarus", which Adam and the band perform admirably.

The aforementioned "Riding The Cosmic Winds" is followed by "Forever Triumphant", a power ballad with a sing-along chorus, anthemic keys, and a classic metal solo from Chad Fisher. Sharing six-string duties with Adam's brother Joe, Chad's work stands out time and again. Whether part of a blazing twin-guitar harmony or capturing the listener's attention with a flashy lead, Chad consistently delivers big. Having said that, Armory's momentum wouldn't be what it is without Joe's driving contributions - particularly in a live setting.

The remainder of The Dawn of Enlightenment continues to deliver all that is required of a good power metal album, with some more edgy tunes ("Heart Of Dreams"), a progressively-inspired instrumental track ("Forged In Dragon Flames"), well-executed Euro-style metal ("The Eyes Of Time", "Mystic Star") and the epic 13-minute title track. In addition to the Maiden cover, Armory dishes up a cover of a Nintendo tune in "Dr. Wily".

With The Dawn of Enlightenment, these Massachusetts lads have, like Kamelot and Jag Panzer before them, proven that Europe has not cornered the market on epic power metal. Fans of the genre, whether preferring their power metal edgy or flowery, will find this album appealing and well worth adding to their collection.

Track Listing
1 The Tempest 1:57
2 Faith In Steel 5:54
3 Riding The Cosmic Winds 7:33
4 Forever Triumphant 5:13
5 Heart Of Dreams 7:53
6 Warrior Forlorn 5:08
7 Forged In Dragon Flames 4:22
8 The Eyes Of Time 6:37
9 Mystic Star 5:27
10 The Dawn Of Enlightenment 13:46
11 Flight Of Icarus 3:50
12 Dr. Wily 1:54
Total Runtime 1:09:34

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