Released: 2003, Arise Records
Reviewer: Night of the Realm
I admit that I do not really consider myself to be a fan of Dark Moor’s works. I found their debut album, SHADOWLAND (1999), to be worse than terrible, but the band managed to rebound with the two solid releases of HALL OF OLDEN DREAMS (2000) and GATES OF OBLIVION (2002). In the symphonic power metal catagory, this Spanish band is as close to Rhapsody as any I have heard, and their past two albums have enough quality to warrant myself owning their entire catalog.
BETWEEN LIGHT AND DARKNESS is Dark Moor’s latest EP, though I use the term EP loosely as the 8 tracks on this album total over 51 minutes in length, and stands as a monument to the closing of a chapter in Dark Moor’s history. After the recording of the 4 new tracks on this EP, vocalist Elisa Martin, guitarist Alberto Maroto, and drummer Jorge Saez left the band.
The tracks on BETWEEN LIGHT AND DARKNESS divide the album in half stylistically. The first 4 songs are brand new acoustic songs, while songs on the second album have appeared as bonus tracks on the band’s previous two album.
The four acoustic tracks are each very interesting, their sound more suited for a track on a Blackmore’s Night album. “Memories” leads off, the best of the new acoustic tracks. This really is a beatutiful song, catchy, mid-paced, and very hypnotic. The chords are complemented nicely by a little string section. This song is completely uncharacteristic for Dark Moor, and yet, I absolutely love it. “From Dawn to Dusk” carries a flute instrumental reminiscent of the interludes on Blind Guardian’s NIGHTFALL. This track goes along at a much slower pace, and is not as strong as the opener. “Lament of Misery” has a great atmosphere to it that perfectly complements the lyrics and sentiment reflected in the title (or does it go the other way?). Elisa’s voice sounds great; it is not weak and flowery as too many female vocalists, but rather is a rich, clean sound. Though she lightens up in her delivery on this album, she still sings with more power and balls than many flower metal vocalists. “Echoes of the Sea” absolutely slays. This is the only instrumental on the EP, starting out with a little minstral piece before going into a wonderful classical violin piece accompanied by a rich string section backing.
“Mistery of the Goddess” appeared as a bonus track on GATES OF OBLIVION. This one continues the same style as the first half of the EP, though this song is not acoustic. It also features the full string backup, but is not as impressive as the album thus far. “Shadows of the Nile” also appeared as a bonus on GATES OF OBLIVION. This one reminds me of something off Fatima Hill’s VALHALLA album, with a distinct Mid-Eastern flair, and a heavy, doomy feel to it. Elisa is almost a dead ringer for Fatima Hill’s Yuko on this track.
The last two tracks are by far the best 20 minutes of the album, though. First comes the symphonic version of “Dies Irae,” the masterpiece from GATES OF OBLIVION. This one’s fully orchestrated, and though the original is a little better, this version is worth the purchase price by itself. Mind you that the big sound of this track is not metallized at all, but rather relies on a heavy orchestral backup and classical choir in place of the electric guitar. Bringing up the end of the album is “The Fall of Melnibone,” my absolute favourite Dark Moor tune. Inspired by Michael Moorcock’s ELRIC saga, this track appeared on the 2001 EP by the same title. Not only did this song have its own EP, but it also appeared as a bonus on HALL OF OLDEN DREAMS in Japan. Yeah, yeah, I completely agree that it cheapens the original idea behind the FALL OF MELNOBONE EP, but this song is so awesome that it deserves a third time around. This is symphonic power metal as good as anything Rhapsody or Blind Guardian can do. The epic choir on here is simply unreal. Over 10 minutes of power metal perfection. If you missed out on this song the first two times around, then now is your chance to score it.
Dark Moor fans will not want to miss this EP, and for 10 bucks, I think that it’s worthy of purchase in any case. The acoustic tracks are nice to have for anyone who has been following the band’s career thus far. Also, it is a fitting transition to the newer incarnation of Dark Moor with vocalist Alfred Romero at the helm. The new acoustic tracks show a different side of the band than we’re used to, and if you don’t already have the bonus tracks from the previous albums, than you’ll want to get them now (“The Fall of Melnibone,” anyone?). All in all, a worthy EP, and true to the intent of an EP release: something new, something different, and something rare.