Dark Horizon - Dark light's shades 4/5
2. Painted in blood
3. Victim of changes
4. Master of the bright sea
5. Dragon's Rising
6. The spell you're under/Hannibal the carthaginian
7. The oath
8. The glory
9. The weeping
10. Flying in the wind
While I had more Italian power metal bands than I could handle around the year 2000, there seems to be less bands that are still active and I've found myself eagerly waiting for what little is released these days. Despite Dark Horizon's debut 'Son of gods' being average, this 2nd CD 'Dark light's shades' is one that I've really looked forward to. And just as there have been many bands that have improved in the last year or so, Dark Horizon has done the same. This is a great 2nd CD, improving majorly in the songwriting department, and not relying solely on the bands instrumental talents. They've even grabbed a new vocalist, Roberto Quassolo, who has replaced Luigi Maione. Roberto has a higher voice than Luigi, and sounds more like a typical Italian vocalist, very comparable to Kaledon's Claudio Conti (although I prefer Roberto by far). Roberto's vocals are some of the best I've heard from the Italians and he's definitely a nice addition to the band. He may even have experience in another popular band(s), as he sounds very familiar, but I have yet to verify this.
Musically, the band has stuck to the symphonic power metal style that we heard with their debut, and they remain most comparable to Dragonhammer and the already mentioned Kaledon. The debut had more of an epic feeling though, while 'Dark light's shades' is more song oriented, featuring some fantastic songwriting. Catchy guitar work, nicely done keyboards, memorable choruses, and the constant presence of a much improved band. I'm reminded a lot of the step up that Dragonhammer took from their debut 'Blood of the dragon', to their outstanding 2nd CD 'Time for expiation'. Every single song on 'Dark light's shades' is at least very good, the majority are excellent, and a few are exceptional. Highlights for me are track 3 "Victim of changes", the powerful and extremely catchy track 5 "Dragon's Rising", and the fast and highly memorable track 6 "The spell you're under/Hannibal the carthaginian". I like the songs from the first half of the CD better, but surprisingly, my favorite is the superb slow song "Flying in the wind" that ends the CD. A song that calls out for me to start the CD all over again.
I do have one problem with this CD however, and that is the difficulty I had grabbing it. The CD is a 2004 release, and I'd been searching since then. This seems to be a problem with many of the Italian releases, and it's unfortunate, because there are many like me who are huge fans of the style. In fact, around the year 2000, the Italian bands were my favorite, as bands like Highlord, Sigma, Labyrinth, Vision Divine, Skylark, Desdemona, Projecto, Rhapsody, Wonderland and Thy Majestie took over my stereo systems, leaving the German and Scandinavian bands begging for playing time. But with bands like Dark Horizon and Dragonhammer improving, and new bands like Odyssea and Landguard arriving, the Italian style is still very much alive, just maybe not as active as it once was. One thing's for sure, 'Dark light's shades' ends up being one of the best surprises for me this year.
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