2009 has shaped up to be quite the year for Power Metal. Bands as diverse as IRON FIRE, ALESTORM, STRATOVARIUS, DOMAIN and CELESTY have all released incredible, jaw-dropping albums this year and there is still so much of 2009 remaining. If there is anything that will take the crown of album of the year at this early speculation it will definitely be FAIRYLAND’S “Score To A New Beginning”... hands down.
The album is a triumph in every single respect bringing together all the positive elements of their previous two releases and mashing them together in the most complete and utterly phenomenal package. The speed and melodies of “Of Wars In Osyrhia...” return as do the symphonies and progressive song structures of “Fall Of An Empire” only now the band has been reduced down to one single member: keyboard virtuoso Phillipe Giordana. Anyone has been following FAIRYLAND’S tragic history will note that former singer Max Leclerq staged a coup with the band during production of this album and caused a mass exodus of every last band member. He also did something similar with MAGIC KINGDOM but that can be saved for when their next album drops. Needless to say the new approach Giordana had to take was to be more like AYREON and simply recruit the remainder of his members for session recordings.
And what a recruitment it was! New vocalist Marco Sandron of PATHOSRAY fame comes with his impressive, sleeper-hit vocals as do bandmates Fabio D’Amore and Alessio Velliscig. Other bands with exports include REVOLTONS, HEAVENLY, KERION, SERENITY and HAMKA (plus several others) making one mighty list of warriors to complete the Osyrhia saga on a high note. Of course the shining star on the album is still Giordana who’s shredding keyboard solos and gorgeous symphonic arrangements drip across each track in a near cinematic style that is still certainly backed up with some epic metal compositions.
Returning in full form as well are those glorious backing vocals supplied by Giordana which are something of a trademark for FAIRYLAND. Where similar minded Symphonic Power Metal groups like RHAPSODY and CELESTY tend to use the backing vocals as a crutch for the lead vocalist, FAIRYLAND has no qualms in simply burying the lead vocals with grandiose, bombastic, choral-like arrangements that only add to the anthemic appeal of the choruses.
As far as individual tracks are concerned it’s difficult to single them out as they all flow and distinguish themselves so well that it feels like picking a scene from your favourite movie. The galloping, heroic anthem “Godsent” will likely be the hook that draws Symphonic Metal fans into the watery depths of this opus but it will be fist-pumping, sing-a-longs like “Across The Endless Sea” and “Assault On The Shore” that keep them coming back, hungry for more. The latter track in particular has one of the most infectious choruses ever concocted that reminds one of RHAPSODY’S “Emerald Sword” or THY MAJESTIE’S “The Sight Of Telham Hill”. There is so much more to be found as well such as the warrior’s ballad “A Soldier’s Letter” which is reminiscent of FREEDOM CALL’S chant-worthy ballads in their earlier days. “Rise Of The Giants” is a sweeping instrumental that speaks wonders of Giordana’s incredible WAGNER-esque sensibilities and closer “End Credits” is a simple drums-and-vocals track that ends the disc on a serene and dignified note. Preceding the “End Credits”, however, is the epic title track which is absolutely loaded with bombast, speed, melody and everything else you could want from the band before fading to its conclusion.
The story is still rather bland, but at the very least it is quite self-contained and does not try to mash too many events into a short period as was the detractor of the previous two records. Giordana was nice enough this time around to also include a short synopsis of the plot in the liner notes so as to not burden the listener too much with details and intricacies.
The album’s major tragedy is that it might be the last for FAIRYLAND. With the completion of the Osyrhia trilogy, it may very well spell the end for the band once and for all. On the bright side, though, it would seem that Giordana has decided to join MAGIC KINGDOM full time, accompanying Olaf Hayer (of LUCA TURILLI and DIONYSUS) who has also decided to lend his abilities to the Belgian project. Along with chief songwriter Dushan Petrossi this could mean that a new Symphonic Power Metal superpower is just over the horizons. FAIRYLAND’s “Score To A New Beginning” is the safe haven for those of us who felt RHAPSODY lost their way and that THY MAJESTIE was beginning to lose theirs. It is a nearly flawless effort and anyone who is a fan of this style of Metal owes it to themselves to pick this album up and sit in awe of its glory.
Yes it’s cheesy. Yes it’s pompous. Yes it’s flowery. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!
For Fans of: RHAPSODY, THY MAJESTIE, MAGIC KINGDOM
(Online July 12, 2009)