Thalion – Dawn Of Chaos
Reviewed By Christopher Foley
Canada is somewhat a hotbed for exciting, if relatively unknown power metal, and with the debut release from Quebec’s Thalion I was really hoping for some of the magic heard in releases from the likes of Instanzia, Heroik, Elderoth, or even Borealis. I can’t say my hopes were realized, although Thalion certainly serves up pleasant enough material, which I guess isn’t too far away from countrymen Icewind in terms of energy and enjoyment, though a little less exciting in terms of songwriting.
Thalion very much craft their brand of power metal in the vein of Helloween, particularly concerning the German’s early and latest directions. There’s the atypical dual guitar and machine gun drumming approach, which the Keeper Of The Seven Keys duo locked down, as well as some of the more abrasive modern elements spawned throughout the Deris-era.
On the subject of abrasive sections, this is one of the elements I’m marking Thalion down on. Their music is riff-happy and heavy enough not to have to warrant the modern tripe that nearly destroys the second track “To Hell And Back”. I’m not sure whether they were trying to emulate Nevermore a là “This Sacrament”, or worse, Korn in their screeching guitars over groovy guitars; but by the gods do I want to put my fist through my monitor listening to it. It’s completely unnecessary, and hurts an otherwise decent song (let down by grating vocals, more on that soon). “Nameless Pharaoh” shows the band dishing out the heavy, and when they can craft numbers as agreeable as this, I’m bewildered by the fumbling songwriting choices in the aforementioned track.
Okay, so the vocals. I’d say that these are pretty good in general. Stéphane Brindle knows what he’s doing with his voice for the most part, and his grittier approach is well done, and of suitable quality for the heavier sections. Hell, even when he aims high it isn’t all that bad. But there’s a problem here, and it’s just that some of the vocal lines spread him thin. I think in part this is down to the backing vocals too (which should be ditched for future reference), and again I’m going reference “To Hell And Back”, which displays everything wrong with this album. In the chorus to this track there’s a prolonged note which is held between lines, and it’s flat, thin, but mostly niggling to the point of red-faced frustration. I don’t want to be overly hard, but it’s elements like this which make all the difference between a good and a bad album.
Sans some amateur songwriting decisions, Dawn Of Chaos is, for the most part, an enjoyable release. Tracks like the aforementioned “Nameless Pharaoh”, “Ballroom Of Fear”, and the opening cut “Another Day” are genuinely fun, showing everything good about Thalion. When they focus they can put a good song together with a good mix between the tried and true Euro power sound and the heavier riffs that acts like Manticora or even earlier Nevermore are renowned for.
If Thalion were to isolate the good elements of Dawn Of Chaos and focus them, they might really be on to something the next time around. I’ll oft say a band has some creases in need of ironing out, and never have the words rung as true as they do here. This could have been a really solid release, but with a dastardly Acme trap lurking behind the first hurdle, and further pesky tricks throughout, I’d suggest proceeding with either caution or wily cartoon hero cunning.
2.75 // 5