Skylark – Twilights of Sand
When you’re given an album of a band you’ve never heard of with the caveats “You’d probably cuss me out for this,” “They’re one of the few power metal bands I don’t enjoy,” and “Enjoy or destroy at your leisure,” you know you’re either going to get a grower that takes a few spins to really appreciate, or you’re going to get the album equivalent of the old “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” NES game. Unfortunately for me, it was the latter.
Before I rip into this abomination of sonic suck, there are a few gems among the, ahem, sand here. “Love Song,” “Tears,” and “Follow Your Dreams” manage to be songs that would otherwise be filler on a decent band’s average album. Here, they’re the standouts. These three songs manage to not be meandering-yet-cliché Italian power metal that the rest of the albums follows (most importantly, these feature the least amount of keyboard use and don’t have the same lame bass solo that plagues every other track on here). “Tears” is the most merciful, coming in at only 3:20, and is the shortest “real” song on the album, but “Love Song” is probably the best of the “best.” Also, another positive about this is that it’s not a double album.
Now that I’ve gotten out what few accolades I can give this, let’s get to why this is to be avoided. First are the keyboards. Generally speaking, keyboards are great in melodic power metal, and many great keyboardists grace the genre; Jens Johansson, Henrik Klingenberg, and Alex Staropoli to name a few. They manage to get a great sound as well as compliment the music. Eddy Antonini is not among these musicians. The general sound of the keyboards here is akin to one of those $15 Casio keyboards, and Antonini more or less drives the melody in every song. The guitars are left to drift along, chugging one-chord vamps like a horrible 80s Shrapnel album while Antonini noodles around. Sure, there’s the occasional solo and a few harmony lines, but the solos are wankery for the sake of wankery, and the harmony parts come off as “Let’s rip off Iron Maiden, but only the easy parts!” This has to rival Metallica’s St. Anger as the longest album with exactly zero good riffs.
Special mention has to go to “Lions Are The World” as the worst metal song I’ve heard that doesn’t involve Dani Filth or Dimmu Borgir. It starts out as a typical insipid piano ballad and erupts into power-metal-by-numbers with lyrics so inane that Justin Bieber’s “Baby” seems deep by comparison. Why couldn’t they write in Italian so I wouldn’t understand? No, they had to write in English, and I feel like Lewis Black overhearing someone say, “If it weren’t for my horse…” “Rebellion in Dreamland” this is not.
Vocalist Ashley (last name apparently withheld to protect her friends and family) comes off as your typical female-vocalist-who-adds nothing. Basically, she’s eye candy. When she tries to hit the high notes, it’s comically bad (like Gene Adam from Iced Earth’s self-titled debut bad). She lacks the range of a Tarja Turunen, the dynamics and passion of a Sharon den Adel, and the “balls” factor of a Sabrina Valentine. She’s pretty much the female Timo Kotipelto, but if Timo Kotipelto were even less talented and off-key than he already is.
This is the album that “flower metal” haters will use to show why they think European power metal sucks, and I can’t really blame them. You can throw out Ecliptica or Oceanborn or Mandrake, but you just can’t win an argument when your opponent has Twilights Of Sand up his sleeve. Having to listen to this album is like being on the losing end of a round of Rock/Paper/Scissors/Knee-to-the-Groin. Now please, someone crank up Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son before my ears run away from 77 minutes of torment!
Kylie’s rating: 1.0 out of 5