Ancient Bards – A New Dawn Ending
Reviewed by Kylie McInnes
Well guys, here it is, the long awaited Part III in the saga of the “Black Creestel Serd” (because once you give The Alliance Of The Kings a spin, that is forever how you will remember Ancient Bards). After the incredibly good Part I and an “I think they’re trying too hard” Part II, A New Dawn Ending tries to strike that happy medium between the catchy-as-hell The Alliance Of The Kings and the grandiose-but-overindulgent Soulless Child. As with Part II, keyboardist/composer Daniele Mazza brings us a heaping helping of extended-length tracks (“Showdown” and the title track are a combined half-hour long, and another 3 tracks are over 6 minutes long each). Obviously, this isn’t a problem when done well, but how well can a fairly young band handle something this epic?
For starters, as far as I can tell, the entire album is the confrontation between Daltor and Sendor, with what’s going on in Daltor’s mind taking up a fair chunk of the album (I only have an EPK, not a full playbill that the official liner notes/lyrics should have…). So, while a 60 minute film featuring a battle between a king and a dark wizard would be pretty cool, it’s hard to follow when Sara Squadrani (as awesome as she is) is the voice of all the characters and the narrator (aside from Fabio “I’m Doing Guest Vocals Here Because I Haven’t Been With This Band Yet” Lione on “The Last Resort” and someone unnamed doing the growly harsh vocals on “A New Dawn Ending”), so following the plot by lyrics alone is fairly tough, especially since I’m not exactly someone who will go out and try to analyze every verse’s lyrics for hidden subtext.
Ok, storylines and figuring out what the hell is going here aside, this is something to rival most (or all) of Rhapsody’s back catalog (ever since I first heard Ancient Bards, they struck me as the female-fronted version of the boys from Trieste). Aside from a few lulls in the lengthy “Showdown” and the obligatory (and heartstring-tugging) ballad, “In My Arms,” A New Dawn Ending feels like a modest and concise 45 minutes (even though it’s over 60). There aren’t many throwaway parts for the sake of silly instrumental bits (there are a few spatters of random bass solos strewn about, but that seems to be an Italian power metal thing, so it’s best not to wonder much, and the flow between songs is nice and crisp.
“A Greater Purpose”, “Flaming Heart”, “Across This Life”, “The Last Resort”, and “In The End” are the highlights, all of which are your typical up-tempo Boot-Shaped-Nation boot-in-the-ass symphonic metal tracks. This is a formula where it’s nigh-impossible to go wrong; at best, it’s jawdroppingly amazing, and at worst, it’s cheesier than Dairy Armageddon, but still at least fun. Ballad “In My Arms” was chosen as the single for some reason (it’s a bit of a tear-jerker and really showcases Sara’s impeccable power metal vocal chops, but it’s like a rom-com movie trailer only showing the one action scene). Much like with The Alliance Of The Kings, Ancient Bards states that it is master of straight-to-the-point metal, yet having enough variety in its style that each of the tracks is its own animal, and without giving way to any kind of “That Ancient Bards Riff” trope.
However, the majestic title track deserves special consideration. “Hope Dies Last” from Soulless Child left a little bit to be desired, but I think Daniele really got his act together to write a fantastic closer (no spoilers will be posted about the lyrical content, since it’s a *a magic spell afflicts Kylie’s hands and she can no longer type anything related to the contents of this parenthetic statement*). The first half is almost ballad-like, giving way to a narrative about *an enchanted demon is summoned and swiftly deletes the contents of this phrase* before giving way to a more heavy metal feel.
So, aside from one kinda-sorta track of mindless self-indulgence and “Spiriti Liberi” (a quasi-ballad track), A New Dawn Ending is one fierce rocker that is almost on the level of the band’s stunning debut. So Daniele, I’m eager to hear what this new dawn is going to bring us beyond the Crystal Sword saga!
4.25 // 5