[21st January 2014]
01. Arcanum Gloriae (intro)
02. Holy Knights
03. King of North
05. Tale of the Elves and Pain
06. Where Heroes Die (Feat. “Fabio Lione of Rhapsody of Fire”)
07. I am the King
08. My Lord
09. Welcome to my Reign
10. Falsi Dei (Feat. “Giuseppe ‘Ciape’ Cialone” of Rosae Crucis)
Italy is a country that is known for its over-the-top, bombastic power metal; for example, there’s Rhapsody of Fire, Domine, and Delain. Astral Domine are no exception to that rule. Formed in 2011, and having assembled a lineup over the next couple years, the band signed a deal with Bakerteam Records and have prepared their first album to be released in 2014, entitled Arcanum Gloriae.
Funnily enough, Arcanum Gloriae certainly shows signs of being influenced by Italy’s biggest power metal band, Rhapsody of Fire; right down to the point where Rhapsody of Fire singer Fabio Lione makes a guest appearance on the album. He is, of course, absolutely brilliant; his voice is made for this kind of bombastic symphonic power metal, soaring and raging amongst the music and arrangement like a dragon among the mountains. The influences reach far beyond that, of course’ “King of North” really sounds like a song that could have been on RoF’s Power of the Dragonflame. That is hardly a bad thing, though it lacks some of the truly epic scope that Rhapsody bring to the table.
The mixing was done by Andrea de Paoli, who has played keyboards in other power metal bands such as Vision Divine and Labyrinth. His specialisation shows, as the keyboards, vocals, and orchestral arrangements on this album sound absolutely amazing. de Paoli has coaxed a metric ton of depth out of the sound – especially on the chorus of the song “Moonlight” – however, the guitars are, at times, barely noticeable. Luckily, the leads are nicely audible, as the guitarist has quite a bit of talent. His guitar solo on “Tale Of The Elves And Pain” is especially wonderful, and is one of the few moments on this album that did not sound like any other band.
On his own, vocalist Marco Scorletti could use some improvement. Again with the Rhapsody of Fire comparisons, but he does bring a similar sound to the field as Fabio Lione, except not as developed. In fact, it is surprising to learn that Fabio only appears on one song on the album, so similar does Marco sound. With time, it is easy to see how he could become quite the powerhouse vocalist in his own right, but in fairness, he can certainly carry a chorus melody. The aforementioned “Tale Of The Elves And Pain” is a highlight of the album, and “Where Heroes Die” is perhaps the finest song on here.
One other thing that must be mentioned about this release is that the drumming feels decidedly average. Note to all bands: don’t just brush off the drums, they are a very important part of the music. The drummer clearly has talent, but is not at all allowed to use it. The drums also feel just a little underproduced, their sound lacks punch.
Basically, Arcanum Gloriae is not a bad album, but neither is it a good album. It is certainly enjoyable enough, and it isn’t hard to envision this band making something great, but it might be a good idea for them to find their own sound first, instead of sounding like Italy’s greatest power metal heroes. Songs like “Moonlight” and the glorious “Where Heroes Die” showcase some seriously excellent orchestrations, whereas “King of North” lets the guitars shine through in a great way, but it all sounds just a little too derivative to give this a great score.
Best songs: “Where Heroes Die,” “Moonlight,” “Tale Of The Elves And Pain”