Dark Moor – Tarot

June 15, 2014 in Artist Rewind, Reviews by blackwindmetal

Dark Moor - TarotDark Moor – Tarot (2007)

Reviewed by Daniel Millard

The sixth album from Dark Moor marks a pivotal point in its development. By 2007, Enrik Garcia had proved that he could pull solid albums together, regardless of lineup turbulence and even disappointed fans. Now, however, the band stood on the threshold of a new era of its life. Beyond The Sea wasn’t disappointing per se, but it was clear that an infusion of energy was important to maintain interest and secure the band’s future. Additionally, the death of Arise Records after the release of Beyond The Sea in 2005 meant a leap to Italy’s Scarlet Records (at that point a rising star in the Euro-power industry) and, presumably, better distribution. Fortuitously for everyone, Garcia and company cranked the creativity dial up and churned out Tarot, an album that brought the band’s focus back towards power metal a bit, and updated some of its sound for the modern power metal audience.

Opener “The Magician” is actually a gorgeously composed, horn-focused orchestral composition that should never be skipped when listening to the album as a whole. The anticipatory build into opener “The Chariot” is a superb one, and that song lives up ably to expectations for a Dark Moor opener, setting the stage for every mid-paced hooky number to come on following albums. Both “The Star” and the incredibly memorable “Wheel Of Fortune” are very solid power metal essentials, and a welcome listen after the last album – proving that Dark Moor’s strength in straightforward power metal is by no means played out. The following “The Emperor” and “Devil In The Tower” are a bit more involved, however, featuring a little more experimentation, orchestral hits, and even harsh vocals. Like “The Sea”, “Wind Like Stroke”, and “Cyrano Of Bergerac”, these songs are gradual and grow in complexity, moving from soft and building to strong and commanding. This time around, however, there is the addition of barreling power metal to infuse the tracks with that much more necessary energy.

 As anyone halfway familiar with the concept has already noted, the song titles each represent a card (among many) from a classic tarot deck. The titling is a little off (“The Devil” and “The Tower” are actually separate cards, to my knowledge), but the concept is a nifty one, and the music even better. “Death” is a fabulous, raging power metal track that, until the solo section, is much lighter on the typical neoclassical elements. Said solo section, however, leaps into one of Garcia’s energetic, show-stealing performances that is a high point for the album. “Lovers” isn’t a bad track, but it’s nowhere near the heights of later ballads on the subject that the band would pen (I’m looking at “Love From The Stone” here, pointedly). “The Hanged Man” is a better-than-average midtempo track, and “The Moon” wraps up the album with a strong mini-epic beginning on the famous strains of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. Bonus track “The Fool” is better than most of the band’s, being an original power metal composition that appears nowhere else, and the Japanese receive an instrumental bonus track: “Mozart’s Waltz”.

Tarot is an excellent transference of Garcia’s compositions to a more modern sound, built up with a little more speed, guitar trimmings, and heaviness than the albums around it, and garnished with a nice little concept. With the strength of this release, combined with the thriving roster of Scarlet records, Dark Moor experienced a well-deserved resurgence in popularity. Tarot is a powerful and deeply memorable recording that nearly brought the band back to its former glory, and it’s one of the band’s most accessible recordings as well.

4.25 // 5