Released: 2006, Napalm
I don’t normally review too much back catalogue but this month I felt I had to. I bought the first Fairyland album OF WARS IN OSYRHIA when it came out in 2003 and I loved it. Aryn wrote a great review of it on this site back in January of 2005. I hadn’t picked up the next two Fairyland albums because a) I can’t buy everything I want to and b) those titles were almost $30.00 each every time I saw them in my local record store, but I’d look at them every-time and curse the high import prices.
I finally bought the bands second and third records early this year. Coincidentally the very next day, I read a couple of reviews that just absolutely dumped on the band and the albums. The author just hated them and didn’t even talk about the music in the reviews so I decided to write my reviews of THE FALL OF AN EMPIRE (2006) and SCORE TO A NEW BEGINNING (2009) to kind of counter-act or cancel out the other author’s bad reviews. It may sound petty but this review is an attempt to bring a tiny bit of journalistic balance, fairness to the band, and to fans who may want to try those records.
Let’s clarify an outstanding issue about the bands name. For our European readers, in North America the word ‘fairy’ is also slang for gay or homosexual. Some narrow-minded and ignorant (in the purest sense of the word) Metal fans in North America joke about the supposed gay reference. They don’t understand that the band is European and the word ‘Fairy’ refers to the mythical creatures, (as in the term fairytale, meaning a story about imaginary lands and magical beasts) not necessarily fairies (the creatures). Fairyland basically means ‘Magical land’ the evolution of the bands former name, ‘Fantasia’. I’m sure that when the band choose their name they had no idea it wouldn’t translate well in North America for some people.
Now that we have established that the bands name is not ‘gay', I apologize if the long introductions to both of these albums are the same (I also review SCORE TO A NEW BEGINNING this month, April 2011) as well, but I wanted to make those points.
As for the album itself, album #2 for the band sees some significant changes. New label, two new members, and a much bigger budget now that the band settled on Napalm. The first primary difference was the departure of Elisa (formerly Dark Moor) on vocals and being replaced by Max LeClerq who used to work with keyboardist Phillipe Giordana in Magic Kingdom. It’s always tough when a band drops their original singer, and the fans have to contend with a change in gender in the vocal department as well, but Max is a fine singer and an admirable replacement.
It’s a beautiful booklet that houses the 13-track, hour-long album. The sound, the performances, the presentation, everything is an improvement over the debut. The story continues the tale of Osyrhia, which in my mind is a brave twist in the story because at the end of the first album, the legions of Cenos (aka the bad guys) won! Ya just knew there was gonna be a Part II.
On THE FALL OF AN EMPIRE the music gets even faster, darker and more orchestral. The compositions are dizzying displays of technical proficiency and metal aplomb. Bombastic almost to a fault, the band rips through an epic array of instrumentation, and orchestration. Not content with being mere Rhapsody clones (as they have been inaccurately labeled) the compositions of Giordana bring many layers of subtly into the songs, interlaced with the driving tunes. Piano, keys, strings all interplay effortlessly with the epic Power Metal.
While France has not really been a hot-bed of Metal in any form over the years, the French can now proudly say they have one of the best symphonic Metal bands on the planet.