Twilight (Spa) - Born undivine 4/5
1. Dawn of the victors (intro)
2. Forgotten heroes
3. Land of the dreamlike visions
5. Blood of Gaia
7. The court of the fallen
8. When misery leaves
10. Born undivine
A recurring worry of mine is that the international power metal glut of the last 8 or 9 years will result in worthy acts being overlooked and obscured by the multitude of average bands with whom they are competing for the finite attention span, cash flow, and bandwidth of dedicated but overwhelmed metalheads. Spain's Twilight are just such a band. Way back in 1998, they released 'Legend', a rousing debut of folk-inflected traditional power metal with English vocals (a rarity for Spanish acts) on then-fledgling Arise Records. In many respects, 'Legend' betrayed itself as the work of a novice band, yet it has always had a place in my heart because of its endearing enthusiasm and its noble attempt to incorporate folk elements, even if the singer was a tad weak and awkward. The years passed, and I never heard another word about the Spanish Twilight, so I assumed they had prematurely fractured, their potential unfulfilled. It is a common, albeit tragic, fate.
Imagine my surprise to be scanning the Sentinel Steel used bins recently and come across a copy of 'Born undivine', the sophomore CD that I never knew Twilight had created. This CD, which boasts quite professional recording and packaging, was self-released in October 2005, without casting so much as a ripple in the international power metal pond. It turns out that in the intervening 7 years following 'Legend''s release, there have been major personnel changes in the Twilight camp, with only guitarist Edu Mota and drummer Jose Carlos Mota returning for another round. A pair of these line-up revisions are particularly glad tidings for Twilight fans. Singer Fran Da Conceicao has entered the fold, and a gifted vocalist he is, singing in confident, clean English in tones that sometimes remind me of Vic Hix (Shok Paris, Aftershok) mixed with Guido from Custard. Fran is a massive upgrade over his predecessor, and a welcome addition, although I can understand why some might find him grating from time to time. The other major improvement is guitarist, Carlos Gomez, who provides a superb foil for Edu, as the 2 axemen work well together in crafting harmonies, trading licks, and cranking out classic solos. (Sadly, I understand that Carlos left the band following these recording sessions.)
The best news of all is that the material on 'Born undivine' is stellar. The folky elements are still present, but they generally manifest themselves in sparkling celtic-tinged melodies a la Falconer or Running Wild, rather than dance-a-jig-in-the-forest bits that surfaced on 'Legend'. The melodies and harmonies in instrumental "Legend" are to die for, and the root melody in "Land of dreamlike visions" is the kind of thing that Blind Guardian or even Iron Maiden used to write with alacrity. Speed is plentiful, as barnburners like "Blood of Gaia", "Firegods", or "Forgotten heroes" punish the listener's weary neck muscles with divebombing guitars, a pummeling rhythm section, and Weikath/Hansen styled harmonies. Then there's "The court of the fallen", which boasts an acoustic jig-like intro, lightning-quick verses, a mead hall-worthy chorus, a nifty little acoustic break in the middle, and divine celtic melodies and harmonies courtesy of Edu and Carlos. And the 8-minute title track throws in everything but the kitchen sink, sporting myriad twists and turns that all fit under the Twilight rubric.
Oh, sure, you could nitpick this thing to death if you were so inclined. You could complain that Fran's voice sounds a bit off here and there, that the melodies are at times too reminiscent of the bands mentioned above, that the whole package doesn't sound innovative enough, etc. But if you're like me, you'll do none of those things, but will instead thank the metal gods in Valhalla for allowing such a high quality European power/heavy/speed/folk metal CD to find its way into your hands. A recent posting on Twilight's website suggests that they are working on establishing U.S. distribution for 'Born undivine'. Assuming they succeed in this quest, run (don't walk) to your CD vendor of choice and add this title to your next haul.
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