Genre - Heavy Metal
1. Hadrian Carrying Stones
2. They That Walk the Night
3. Frozen Goddess
4. Gone Astray
5. The Hour of Dying
6. The Kraken
8. Earendil (Gone Are the Days)
One thing that can be said about Cruz Del Sur is while they don't release a huge quantity of stuff, what they do is generally always release quality material, and German heavy metal act Lunar Shadow are no exception. Upon first glance of their album cover, you almost expect it to be some sort of polished, sterile black metal, certainly the logo could certainly throw a unsuspecting few people off, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Far From Light, the debut album from these guys is nothing but pure gallant heavy metal with it's roots planted firmly in the classic style, and drawing from the same vein as acts such as Twisted Tower Dire, Slough Feg and Atlantean Kodex.
Comparisons to label contemporaries Atlantean Kodex are going to be unavoidable, they both share that similar starry eyed, cavalier style of heavy metal which is filled with fantasy and imagination, weaving epic songs pushing ten minutes in length absolutely awash with atmosphere. But while they are similar in design, Lunar Shadow have a bit more 'oomph' and kick to their sound, with a nice variety of tempo changes throughout the album.
If you've heard their impressive debut EP released two years prior, it's along the same sort of theme, except this time round they've tightened the reins and backed by a decent production job, sound a lot more mature and focused.
The first thing that struck me was was how much at times on this album vocalist Alex Vornam sounds like Paul Mccartney, call it a lazy comparison or whatever but listening to the some of the slower songs especially or the opening to 'Hadrian Carrying Stones' and you'll see what I mean, I just can't get it out of my head. Vocally the album might put some off, but I think they suit the mood of the album well, though they could still potentially benefit more from something a bit more Tony Taylor like which would propel them into the same realm as classics such as 'The Isle of Hydra' and 'Traveller'. Regardless, 'Far from Light' is not too far off from this at all. Instrumentally is where the album really comes into a league of it's own though, the guitar work delivered by Max and Kay is absolutely sublime, awash with Maiden-esque twin guitar harmonies, ripping solos and acoustics passages which show some more traditional Wishbone Ash influences too.
Tracks like the opener with its interweaving guitar melodies, sustained by an absolutely pounding rhythm are the perfect examples of what I'm talking about, it's the type of metal that marches right up to you and kicks you square in the balls yet still leaves you wanting more. There's also a huge array of diversity as well, no passage ever feels like it's been rehashed, and it's technical without ever straying into prog territory. 'The Kraken' and 'Cimmeria' are similarly epic, long double bass driven narratives, the former a baroque journey with arguably the finest guitar work here, dynamic and crunching riffs, driving rhythm tied up with that sleek, Murray/Smith lead work; the latter while having a bit of a slow start, being a more aggressive and moody number.
'Gone Astray' and 'Earendil' take the foot off the throttle and break up the pace a bit and are pure acoustic ballads almost Blind Guardian like in their delivery, not too dissimilar to 'The Bard's Song' or 'Lord of the Rings'. The former is a tad cheesy though and does drag a bit, but is by no means terrible.
'They That Walk the night' is by far the standout track here though, one of those tracks that will become a live staple for years to come, a headlong sing along assault with a blistering intro not unlike something early Slough Feg might have come up with, with a tempo and chorus that absolutely grips you by the neck and holds on for dear life.
So, safe to say this is a fucking fantastic album and one that's sure to remain near the top until the end of the year. It seems traditional heavy metal is making somewhat of a small revival again, what with bands such as Summerlands, Eternal Champion and Ravensire all releasing stellar albums in the past year, and this is certainly an album that can go toe to toe with those, if not even better. If fist clenching, fantasy driven heavy metal that leaves nothing but a trail of burnt rubber and steel in it's wake is your thing, then this is a must buy, since this dropped through my post box I haven't stopped playing it. Now when's that next Atlantean Kodex release due?
If you like - Twisted Tower Dire, Solstice, Atlantean Kodex