Arcane Tales is an Italian Symphonic Power Metal one man band. I never heard of it up to day, to be honest and there was almost nothing about the band in press release from the label. However, I like to research and I will share all what I found with pleasure.
So, Arcane Tales was formed in 1998 as a full band but four years later they split-up, leaving only one recorded demo. In 2008 Luigi Sorrano reanimates Arcane Tales, making it his own project, where he plays all instruments, provides vocals and programs the drums. In 2016, after four released demos, the first long play from Arcane Tales, named New Hope Bringer, saw the light of the day. Since then every year new album was released until 2022. Now, in the beginning of 2024 here comes the seventh album Until Where The Northern Lights Reign.
By the way, in 2009 Luigi released his first book, “La pietra di zaffiro – Lo scettro di Kaàly” (The Sapphire Stone – Kaáli’s Scepter) and in 2013 came the sequel: “La pietra di zaffiro Parte II – Le Armate del Cielo” (The Sapphire Stone part II – The Armies Of Heaven). Arcane Tales‘ lyrics based on these books.
One man band/project is not that rare phenomenon, especially with the development of technology but still unique. It becomes more unique if we are talking not about Black Metal or Djent, for example, but specifically about Symphonic Power. Here I must admit that Luigi handed it very well, especially for one person. There are choir samples in Until Where The Northern Lights Reign, epic synths and fast paced guitar riffs, of course.
The album opens with epic “One Last Ride”, fast paced and melodic song with catchy chorus and shredding solo, inherent for the genre. Then “King Of Kings” takes epic and pathos on a higher level, while “Dwarven Storm” reminds some battle tapestry from Manowar. “Dead Hordes Ride From Hell” is Luigi’s golden hour as for multi-instrumentalist: fast pace, smooth guitar riff in verses, melodic chorus and above it there are a couple of guitar and keyboard solos. There is also an instrumental composition, “Last Shàranworld’s Hope” with plenty of keys and synths, staccato riffs and some more shredding. Ballad can be also found in the album, of course: “We Will Meet Again” is made as a classic Power Metal ballad, where Luigi’s voice was trembling a bit (at least, that what I’ve heard), whilst he done great on seven previous tracks. And the album ends with epic nine minutes eponymous saga, which most likely is a quintessence of the album, musically and conceptually.
Everything would be brilliant, if not the Achilles heel of Until Where The Northern Lights Reign: “plastic” drums. Don’t get me wrong, the patterns themselves are good and made thoroughly, there is nothing that some good drummer can play, which happens pretty much at some, let’s say, Djent one man projects. But the sound itself not just letting you to immerse into the music completely (at least I couldn’t); sometimes it turns the music into something similar to Summoning – I’m talking here about first two minutes of the last track.
I should also say a word or two about genre borders, which certainly have a huge impact on the album. There are strong define patterns in Symphonic Power Metal, which developed a long time ago and taking a step back from them means taking a step back from the genre. What can we do, if Rhapsody (Of Fire) set the bar a long time ago, while other bands are aiming to reach it, willingly or not. Although, Luigi does not hesitate to add some elements like extreme vocals and blast beats (“The Dark Portals Of Agony”), which makes music better and more interesting, as for me. But some patterns and musical treatments still stay in the narrow borders of genre and maybe that’s the reason that you can find some guitar riffs, which remind Nightwish from Oceanborn era or vocals with choirs that close to early Hammerfall, for example. Talking about them, the chorus in “Against the Legion of Darkness” gently reminds of a song “Glory To The Brave.”
Nevertheless, this band and this album particularly worth much wider attention. Symphonic Power fans will be pleased, I’m sure, but those who are not so deep into this genre will find something interesting too. The most important thing is that despite all its lacks, I really think that Until Where The Northern Lights Reign greatly shows that one talented person can do things, which once demanded a lot of people to be done. Maybe it will sound better with live musicians and instruments but what we have now commands respect as well.
Until Where The Northern Lights Reign will be released on January, 29th via Broken Bones Promotion.
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