It takes a lot – an awful lot – to stand out from the pack in the world of symphonic power metal. Yet somehow, in a genre already on more than intimate terms with the word ‘ridiculous’, Sweden’s Twilight Force might just have topped the lot.
If you are only equipped with standard-issue human ears, there is far too much going on on Heroes of Mighty Magic to take in in two or three listens. Every song contains more ideas, riffs, parping embellishments, bells and whistles than most bands manage to come up with in an entire lifetime, the result being a completely overwhelming assault on the senses that will leave your head spinning, especially if you elect to crank your speakers up for the duration (and I strongly advise that that’s exactly how you listen to this album).
Essentially, every single power metal device ever thought up is employed – repeatedly – over the course of this album, with the band also conscripting the works of composers such as Antonin Dvorak and John Williams in case you were worried the pudding was in danger of being underegged, throwing the lot into a cauldron alongside an awful lot of silly dungeons n’dragons lyrical matter to produce what might possibly be the ultimate album of its type ever recorded.
The likes of Dragonforce and the various Rhapsody incarnations loom large throughout the record, as does the shadow of Tobias Sammet, and although originality is entirely missing from the whole thing I have to admit Heroes… is an incredibly entertaining listen. Cinematic in ambition, cold and deadeyed in execution, this is absolutely an album for the power metal connoisseur, and no one else – this is not going to make converts of anyone not already mired in the world of Tolkein and Rodney Matthews – but as I like to consider myself as just such a being then I’m going to call this a hit, and a very big one at that.
I’m not going to go through this track by track, but I will say that the album’s standout cut – a song for which the phrase ‘over the top’ must surely have been invented, Flight of the Sapphire Dragon, is simultaneously the most ludicrous yet life affirming song I’ve heard in a long, long time, and that’s as good a recommendation as I can come up with for this riotous slab of musical overkill. Marvellous stuff!