Some people often have a view of metal fans as being a bunch massive nerds who like songs about dragons and monsters. To an extent this is clearly true, although normally it is done through the lenses of storytelling similar to Tolkien. However there is a growing group of bands who have decided that simply telling the story isn’t enough and, in the absence of there actually being a d20 system in the real world, have taken it upon themselves to do the musical equivalent of LARPing these themes. No band in the entire world sum this up better than TWILIGHT FORCE, a band so unashamed of what they are that on their new record’s cover, which’s title Heroes of Mighty Magic is a blatant homage, they have a purple (sorry Sapphire) dragon vomiting purple magic dust and one of the members doing a bow jump, yes you read that right, on their promotional material. Subtle it isn’t.
The album begins with Battle Of Arcane Might and without an preamble gets straight into the unashamedly cheesy power metal on offer here. Immediately of note is the use of some folk instrumentals which doesn’t feel remotely out of place. Uplifting and over the top the track set you up perfectly for what is to come. Powerwind is more keyboard driven than the previous track but retains the same feeling, slowing lightly for a huge chorus. If this album hasn’t put a smile on your face by now, it isn’t for you. Guardian of the Seas see the neoclassical approach to riff and the keyboards intermingle to great effect as well as featuring a solo that receives an almost orchestral backing track.
Flight of the Sapphire Dragon begins very happily with what sound suspiciously like the overly happy introduction from a children’s television show before a measured verse and chanting leads into a power metal chorus that puts all others to shame with its cheesiness. One of the standout tracks on the album, if only for its lack of shame in both lyrics and the sheer happiness it gives off. It’s just fun. Likewise There and Back Again will bring a smile to many a fans face. A long track that covers everything that TWILIGHT FORCE can do within it and shows the versatility on offer before ending the track with a bang.
With an epic introduction Riders of the Dawn is one of the shorter tracks as well as one of the faster paced ones. A simple track by the band’s standards it relies heavily on more traditional power metal style and a big catchy chorus. A welcome change after the previous track. Keepers of Fate begins with a blaring horn before those neoclassical riffs kick in. A somewhat generic track for a band who are capable of doing a lot more interesting things and that works against them on an album of this length. Rise of a Hero illustrates this perfectly by alternating the vocal up for the beginning of the track as well as switching between guitars and keyboard led parts throughout the song to great effect.
To the Stars is another faster track with a big catchy chorus designed to be shouted along with as well as a brilliant vocal performance, ranging right across the spectrum of styles displayed on the whole album and a great solo taking up a large part of the latter half of the track. The album’s title track Heroes of Mighty Magic is another long track and again covers the length of the album within its own length as well as a convincing attempt to be labelmates SABATON when guest vocalist Joakim Broden makes an appearance. An over the top track from a band that doesn’t know the meaning of the words.
Unfortunately rather than finish on such a huge high TWILIGHT FORCE decided for some reason to have a six minute spoken word Epilogue afterwards and to follow that up with what will presumably be their live exit track Knights of Twilight Might. The inclusion of both of these feels unneeded and ends the album on much less than they could.
The phrase don’t judge a book by its cover doesn’t apply here. TWILIGHT FORCE have done what they set out to do with Heroes of Mighty Magic and listeners will know if they will end up being a fan based entirely of the cover artwork. If a dragon spewing forth purple magic to the title of an old role playing game is not for you, then turn away now. What featured herein is the most bombastic, over the top, cheesy power metal to possibly ever exist while still managing to be an hour of damn good music.
Heroes of Mighty Magic is out now via Nuclear Blast Records.
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