Darksun - Crónicas de Aravan - (9/10)
Published on May 2, 2016
Spain is one of those countries that have a very isolated metal scene. Not that there are no bands coming out of the country, but many of them (and most of them singing in their native tongue) seem to be content to stick to the domestic scene and rarely seem to search for distribution abroad, leading to a whole bunch of bands out there that have tremendous quality, but are virtually unknown outside of the country. Ever since Nörthwind split in two in 2002, resulting in the foundation of Darksun and Vendaval, this quintet has been plying the power metal trade with determination and passion. Now many bands try to “spice up” their sound, trying to be heavier or more symphonic or with different singers or meshing them with different genres and influences, but Darksun are firmly planted in the traditional European power metal and are not looking back on their 7th album Crónicas de Aravan.
Actually they kind of are looking back, because technically there is not a single new song on Crónicas de Aravan… Yes, it is a compilation of (completely re-recorded) tracks off Nörthwind’s last album El Retorno del Rey (2002) and the first two Darksun albums El Legado (2004) and El Lado Oscuro (2006), telling the Chronicles of Aravan, a fantasy story that fans had been able to choose the tracks for, and despite its relative age, Crónicas de Aravan easily aims for one of the top spots in this year’s power metal rankings. Not that it means that this year’s crop is sub-par, quite the contrary, any year that can sport the likes of Sinbreed, Metal Church, Van Canto, Mystic Prophecy, Paragon, Arakain, InnerWish, Human Fortress… is anything but sub-par.
The first five songs are off El Retorno del Rey and while the Spaniards technically do not employ any elements that greatly deviate from the traditional epic power metal pattern with plenty of double-bass, soaring guitars, symphonic keyboards (with a few baroque elements here and there), choirs and the like, but it’s the songwriting that sets Darksun apart from many of their peers, with great tension and dynamics within and between songs and also great melodies this side of the nursery rhymes a fair share of their colleagues employ. “Cuanda Salga el Sol” is a prime example right from the get go, uniting all of the above in a power metal track of superior quality! And even when the good old Helloween school comes through (“Cielo Gris”), the band manages to pull it off without sounding like a copycat.
The six following tracks originally starred on the official Darksun debut El Legado and they seamlessly pick up where the Nörthwind swansong had left off, with the epic title track and “Veo la Luz”, speedy “Corazón de dragón” and symphonic power bite “Gloria y poder” and the remaining three tracks off El Lado Oscuro, where the stomping title track ups the symphonic ante and “Prisioneros Del Destino” pairs the double-bass with piano to great effect.
Despite being a full retrospective, Crónicas de Aravan sounds fresh and contemporary, not having lost any of its lustre and being a strong reminder how strong good parts of the Spanish scene and Darksun in particular are. This is a prime example for how European school power metal can sound highly traditional, yet high-standing without falling into any of the many ruts this genre has seen already. Here’s to hoping that already four years after their last new album Memento Mori there will be a follow-up of similar caliber of Crónicas de Aravan rather sooner than later!