Twilight Force – Tales Of Ancient Prophecies
Reviewed by Kevin Hathaway
“Am I the only one not hearing Gloryhammer?” I mused to my fellow BWM writers while listening to Twilight Force’s debut album, Tales Of Ancient Prophecies. This wasn’t the first time I had heard Twilight Force being compared to that puffed-up act.
“It’s the completely over-the-top nature that simultaneously takes itself seriously that makes me think of Gloryhammer”, Daniel chimed in. I bit my tongue, knowing to save it for the review because I would be mentioning Gloryhammer a lot in it, whether I wanted to or not. Although secretly I did want to, because I never got to express my opinion of Gloryhammer for our BWM readers, minus a brief jab at Thomas Winkler whilst looking at Signum Regis’ Exodus. With Twilight Force, the comparisons between it and Gloryhammer seem to be unavoidable, despite how much I think they don’t sound alike in the least, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing two reviews in one like this! I never got the “over-the-top” aspect that people seemed to hear in Gloryhammer. Aside from the outlandish lyricism, that band’s debut was actually rather tame musically. Christopher Bowes’ pet project also came off to me as mean-spirited in its attempt at power metal, like it was viciously making fun of the genre more than it was embracing the clichés and tropes. “You guys really listen to this crap about dragons and princesses and unicorns? Haha, okay, they’re going to eat this right up…”
Twilight Force, on the other hand, seems a lot more earnest in its efforts on Tales Of Ancient Prophecies. The lyrics are as corny as they come (8 of the 11 song titles on here are basically “_____ Of _____”) but Christian Hedgren’s passionate performance elevates this to the over-the-top, yet serious nature that Dan was using to describe Gloryhammer (which I still fail to see). Personally, I’m reminded of Power Quest with dashes of Pathfinder and early Rhapsody combined with a voice that I find most reminiscent of fellow Swede Tommy Johansson. Opener “Enchanted Dragon Of Wisdom” reminds me quite a bit of Reinxeed, with its instant sing-along chorus and opening fanfare. The following song (also the lead single for the album), “The Power Of The Ancient Force”, is a piano-driven, up-tempo cooker which is also my personal favorite on the album. The chorus will be stuck in your head for weeks, I guarantee it.
While there’s little fault to be found with Twilight Force’s brand of “Renaissance Faire” metal, there are major problems when they’re not playing metal. The interlude tracks feature some of the worst voice acting this side of Sir Jay Lansford, and kill any of the silly-but-serious momentum the album had, propelling it to outright absurdity. I can’t tell if they’re trying to deliberately have the worst narration possible, but even if they are, it is so awful that the joke gets lost. The voice on “The Summoning” sounds like me trying to impersonate James from Team Rocket while I have a cold. It’s just embarrassing. The actor on “In The Mighty Hall Of The Fire King” tries his best to impersonate Christopher Lee, but without the slick, professional baritone. The bard-like singing on “Sword Of Magic Steel” is probably the least offensive voice acting here, but it’s still a little too silly for my tastes.
Let’s get back to the good stuff. The album closer “Gates Of Glory” features a surprising appearance by world-renowned tank advocate Joakim Broden. And unlike his main band Sabaton, I’m not bored to tears listening to this (I can hear the hate-mail pouring into my inbox now). In fact, “Gates Of Glory” is a very pleasant mixture of Reinxeed and Freedom Call with Joakim there to counteract the fluffiness with a bit of balls that the song doesn’t exactly need, but is no worse off by including. Pretty much every song on here is an instant power metal anthem, save for the ballad, “Made Of Steel”, which is okay at best. Twilight Force’s strength lies obviously in bombastic sing-along fist-pumpers, and the band should really stick to them, because everything screeches to a halt when they’re not on target. With only 36 minutes of running time, Twilight Force can’t afford to waste time with silly transition tracks and tepid ballads. I can understand wanting to change up the pacing, but those two practices are not the way to do it.
The short running time, in conjunction with a few time-wasting tracks, are really the only things holding back this album. Otherwise, Tales Of Ancient Prophecies is a ridiculously solid record that takes pride in its clichés. I’m still not sure where people are hearing Gloryhammer in this, because I find it actually enjoyable, and I dont think it defecates all over a genre I hold near and dear to my heart (it’s like I’m trying to piss off the fanboys now). Any power metal fan with a high lactose tolerance can do no wrong in picking up Twilight Force’s debut.
3.75 // 5