Ancient Empire’s Other World Album Review (2016)

Ancient Empire is a band I discovered late last year, yet it took me another six months to actually start listening to the band. When I did, however, I was not surprised that the epic space concept albums would pull me in like a black hole of our galaxy.

In this album’s story, unlike their most recent release, an alien civilization has invaded Earth. It’s not just humanity leaving Earth to survive a cataclysmic war or disaster of some type. Instead, humanity leaves the Earth to escape the onslaught of extraterrestrial invasion. Lines like “A blackened silence replaces everyday / Funeral shroud for the Mother we betray” incite a kind of emotional fear while what little of humanity can escape manages to go to space to find a new home. Eventually, after years of attempting to settle space and another planet (“No place for man among the star / No solace in the cold of space”), the Empire of Man returns to Earth and repels the alien invaders, eventually taking back the “ashes” of the old human civilization.

The concept definitely takes nods from Rush’s 21 minute epic “2112”. While not as poetic as the lyrics of Neil Peart, each song on Other World definitely carries a great deal of weight in terms of progressing the concept.

However, while the lyrics and the story is fun to follow along with and interpret, the real bread and butter of the album lies in the instrumentation. Guitars and vocals carry each song, with harmonized choruses, melodic guitar solos and harmonies, and an abundance of catchy guitar riffs slay each song into the next dimension. Imagine listening to an Iron Maiden record, a Rush record, and a Dio record all in one? Put them altogether and you have Ancient Empire.

With the always prevalent cheesiness of power metal, it’s difficult to create music that transcends that cheesiness on the way to grandiosity, with quality riffs, vocals, and lyrics to go along with it. However, Ancient Empire manages to achieve this with this 2016 album. Other World and Wings of the Fallen manages to deliver on the promise of epic power metal with a straightforward riffing edge to round out the lasers coming from the incoming return of the Human Empire.

Score: 9.5/10

Blind Guardian Debut’s New Song

Written by vocalist Hansi Kursch and guitarist Andre Olbrich, power metal wizards and newly anointed holders of the flames of The Dark Lands, Blind Guardian has released a new song today along with a lyric video. Earlier this year, the band explained that they had been interested in releasing an orchestral album since they had started using those same elements in their metal albums, so sometime in the 1990’s. Of course, the idea simmered, and only recently has work on the concept reached full fruition.

In fact, since 1998’s Nightfall in Middle Earth, (though not starting at that album) Blind Guardian has continuously grown the orchestral aspects of their albums. 2002’s Night at the Opera featured “And Then There was Silence”, a 14 minute long behemoth of various heavy and orchestral instruments played together and separately while backing Hansi’s extensive vocals. While 2006’s A Twist in the Myth featured less of the orchestral instruments, 2010’s At the Edge of Time and 2015’s Beyond the Red Mirror featured more prominent use of the movie-like scores, featuring timpani’s, bells, strings, and the like alongside traditional heavy metal instruments such as guitar, drums, and bass.

The upcoming record Legacy of the Dark Lands seeks to use an orchestra solely to its full potential alongside Hansi’s epic vocals. And together, with the grandeur of each song, the album features an original concept which serves as the musical sequel to Die Dunklen Lande, a novel by German author Markus Heitz.

The album, Legacy of the Dark Lands, will be released on November 1st of this year.