Spaniards DARK MOOR went through a little slump after the rather dramatic line-up shake-up after the split from three members, including Elisa Martin, but a light change in musical direction sees them well on the way to surpass the already good reputation they had prior to the line-up earthquake, reaching their sixth album with “Tarot” and with it maybe the pinnacle of their career so far.
Some may argue that the Madrid based band sacrificed too much of heaviness in favour of more symphonics, but in my opinion they needed this change in orientation to be able to break out of the relatively narrow musical confines they had maneuvered themselves in, resulting in an excellent Symphonic Metal albums of the year! Especially singer Alfred Romero has truly found his place in DARK MOOR’s sound and basically the whole crew has stepped it up a notch.
Everything starts off very, very catchy and accessible with the symphonic bombast of “The Chariot”, where Alfred is also supported by a lady, whose name I do not know, but who has a few more appearances throughout the album, a good, if dangerous start, dangerous because of too many bands trying the same and in the end sliding off into cheesiness over the course of a whole album. And while the following “The Star” and “Wheel Of Fortune” are very, very catchy and symphonic again (and good as well, I may add), the album only fully takes off with “The Emperor”, which reminds me of the best moments of Italian pomp specialists RHAPSODY, with a bombastic choir and great, soaring melodies, I love this song!
“Devil In The Tower” is another highlight, fast, catchy and even with a canon passage, which fits in very nicely, and “Death” goes a little heavier, while the ballad “Lovers” on the other hand leaves me hanging out there, surely not bad, but overall pretty standard. But there are two excellent tracks left, with “The Hanged Man”, which has some ingenious vocal melodies and 11 minutes monstrosity “The Moon”, where they partly Metal-ize some Beethoven and incorporate it into an overall classically influenced symphonic Power Metal track, well done!
I think that DARK MOOR are on a pretty good way to work their way up to the top of the hybrid between Symphonic and Power Metal, but I hope that they will not sacrifice even more of the heaviness in favour of more symphonic elements, because then they might start to lose track and drift off into the realm of bands that didn’t know when the limit was full… Anyways, a strong album indeed!
(Online August 12, 2007)