Released: 1997, Thunder Productions
It has been said that people have connections to certain types of music, and that music can even evoke certain response or memories. I have many such memories and experiences and this is one of them.
Back in 1999 I contacted the band Days Of Yore. I was the new co-host of one of North America’s longest running Heavy Metal shows. I had heard good things about this Quebec Metal band and so as a Canadian radio guy I contact them and offered my support. Now, in the industry there is a convention that a band will provide promotional copies of their album to help promote it. That is not written in stone but many successful bands realize the value of self-promotion and will flip a copy of two of their new disc to a DJ or writer in hopes they will check it out. Well, I asked for a copy to play on the radio and the band said, ‘No’. Fair enough, I was a little puzzled but it did not bother me and to show that I supported underground Metal I offered to buy a copy of the cassette. Yes, cassette. The band representative (member or manager I can’t recall now it was over a decade ago) offered to sell me a copy for $20.00 plus shipping! For the tape! Plus, I got a bit of attitude from him so I decided they didn’t need or want my support so I passed. The band broke up shortly after and I can’t say I’m especially surprised because a band that doesn’t want to accept help may be limiting their options. Over the years I always wanted to hear the album but made little effort to chase it down because of the mild snub of my efforts to help. I watched the price of the album on the market rise and rise hitting as high as $50.00 in price.
Recently, (14 years later) I decided to bite the bullet and I bought the damn album (on CD) for a reasonable (now) $25.00 from Echoes Of Crom, the US label (run by Howie Bentley of Cauldron Born) that specializes in this kinda cool, rare stuff. Was it worth the 13-year wait and paying more than the original $20.00 asking price?
Before even discussing the music, I have to say, the packaging (which is what really caught my eye in the first place) is absolutely phenomenal. It is among the best I have ever seen. The 14-page booklet is amazing. The band name is good. The title is great. The font is good. The booklet itself has a whole story that is 12 pages long and on each page an original piece of art to tie in to the story. I’m glad in hindsight I didn’t get the cassette as the font size would have been tiny and nearly impossible to read! The presentation is better than most major label CD’s I have seen.
This 18 track concept album runs just under an hour and many of those tracks are brief musical interludes that add atmosphere to the story. The lyrical theme high fantasy based in the realm of Syrakia. There is lots of epic adventure to accompany the epic music. Days Of Yore were probably Canada’s first Power Metal band as the quintet performs in the epic symphonic style. The vocals of Jerome Parent have decent range and power but also a gruff side as well adding a good dimension to his delivery. The Giguere brothers (presumably brothers) Martin and Sylvain handle the guitar chores. Apparently the album was recorded as a trio with a machine handling the drums but then the band expanded into a quintet. The drums sound pretty good for mid-90’s technology. The orchestration is also from the can, as it would have been prohibitively expensive to hire real musicians to play all that stuff. I can forgive the fact that it sounds a little thin in the production department compared to today’s modern productions. The pace and intensity of the album is good as the story winds through various moods and tempos. There are lots of solos with the vocals soaring over top. It’s a fine example of the art-form with a amazing degree of quality from a new, unknown band in 1997.
It’s a shame the band never made it. Days Of Yore could have been Canada’s Rhapsody. I’m not kidding, they are that good. If you think about the development of soundtrack-styled, neo-classical, epic, symphonic Power Metal that is all the rage around the entire planet these days THE MAD GODD’S WAGE is an absolutely pioneering album. This came out BEFORE the ground-breaking Rhapsody album LEGENDARY TALES! Let that sink in for a minute. Its probably a case of concurrent development of the two bands because I highly doubt the two obscure (at the time) bands were even aware of each other, being situated half-way across the planet (pre-internet) although it is within the realm of possibility that Days Of Yore got a copy of Rhapsody’s amazing debut EP on cassette and drew inspiration from them, but it seems pretty unlikely. My main point being that Days Of Yore is way ahead of it’s time. It’s a fantastic album and is one of the crown jewels of my collection.