Ancient Bards – Origine (The Black Crystal Sword Saga Pt. 2)

Band: Ancient Bards
Album: Origine (The Black Crystal Sword Saga Pt. 2)
Release Date: 25th January 2019
Record Label: Limb Music

Ancient Bards are a band that I hadn’t heard of until my friend DoomFace mentioned that this was an album release he was looking forward to this year. I had a bit of a listen to the back catalogue so knew that Ancient Bards were a symphonic power metal band and that I had to check them out. Ancient Bards were then also announced as this year’s Power Metal Quest Fest headliners (tickets here).
As the name of the album might suggest, this is the second part of the Black Crystal Sword Saga (the first part I am yet to fully listen to the entire way through), and as far as I can tell, explains the origin of the main story in Part 1.

We begin with a short male spoken word sentence before an epic fantasy instrumental with a full orchestra in Origine. The spoken word later returns for a more detailed description of the story, and then a choir comes in, all while the orchestral instrumental continues. Impious Dystopia begins with the choir along with drums, and then it becomes fast paced with the orchestral and metal instruments. There are both clean female and harsh male vocals. The choir and harsh vocals are heard together, and the pace slows with guitar chugging, before a guitar solo picks up the pace, followed by a keys solo. The vocals change back to the female vocals towards the end of the track.

Fantasy’s Wings has the intro of a folk song, but using symphonic metal instruments rather than what you would consider folk instruments. Strings and female vocals are prominent before the rest of the band comes in and the the symphonic elements take more of a back seat. The harsh vocals are there in the chorus, but they are very quiet in the mix. There are more choral vocals and an obligatory key change for a power/symphonic metal song. The next track is where I feel a bit let down in terms of the recorded music. The quality is no worse, but the tracks themselves are not as much to my taste. Aureum Legacy begins with strings and piano, leading on to flute and guitar harmonies. The verses are calmer and less symphonic. There is a solemn feel, but there is a guitar solo in there.

Light continues with the more solemn feel, and it definitely feels like a ballad. It begins with piano, and then strings come in. The full band does come in but it still retains the ballad style. The choir is heard again and and there is a guitar solo. Oscuritá starts with strings and vocals, but the heavier style of the start of the album is back. There’s an orchestral build up to the full band, and the harsh vocals are back and prominent. There are also operatic vocals, and the orchestra becomes fast paced.

Group vocals and drums bring in Titanism, it is fast paced, and the symphonic elements in the verses are more toned down. There are male and female choral vocals which are almost speaking to each other. The Hollow begins with a Gregorian style chant, and strings build the tension. It reminds me of Nightwish in its feel. The build-up however, for me, is a little anti-climactic. Home of the Rejects is heavier and faster that the previous track, and then the orchestral elements come in. The instrumental is calmer when the female vocals come in, but in between, the instrumental picks up pace again.

The final track has many different sections. The Great Divide begins with percussion and strings, then the strings pick up the pace and the drums come in. Once the full band comes in, the metal instruments and strings blend together really well. There are both female and choral vocals, and the first few sections repeat. There is a build up with brass, strings, drums and choir, before a chugging breakdown and harsh male vocal, there are even some black and death metal elements in there. There is a switch between the heavier style and the more usual style we have heard throughout the album previously. The end of the track is very much more choral and fantastical. The strings build up and the choir has a gradual increase in volume in the mix, and there is a large amount of male spoken word, which we learn is the grandfather of the protagonist. The song ends with more choral vocals.

For me, the album started out promising but I felt like the middle section let it down. It wasn’t that the composition was bad, it just wasn’t quite to my taste. However, I do feel that in a live setting with a crowd and the right atmosphere, that I would appreciate the sound of the middle part of the album a lot more. I feel that for symphonic metal of this type, I also need to be in the right mood to listen to it. Having said that, I do appreciate the skill and thought that has gone into the music, and that there will be a lot of people who will really enjoy this. I really do look forward to seeing Ancient Bards live at Power Metal Quest Fest.

Verdict: 7.5/10

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