Aardia - _Conquest of the Ancient Halls_
(Waerloga Records, 2011)
by: Chaim Drishner (9 out of 10)
So, there's this legendary land called Aardia, and the rest is pretty much a been-there tale of good versus evil, Orcs, Elves, Wizards and what lies between -- you know the drill: an album whose theme is heavily influenced by J. R. R. Tolkien's stories, H. P. Lovecraft's horrors and Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana"'s bombast; and even though Aardia's concept isn't the most original of the lot, this mere fact is inconsequential in the face of the band's amazing music.

Aardia deliver the most bombastic and beautiful neoclassical instrumental soundscapes, spiced up with melodic dark ambient passages, and an undeniably alluring distant human chanting choir of sorts, not unlike what Vangelis did on his Opus Magnum soundtrack to the _1492_ motion picture, and, as above mentioned, pretty much along the lines of Orff's "Carmina Burana"'s engaging pomposity.

The orchestration is perfect; building up from the most tranquil moments, slowly picking up pace and power and exploding in the face of the listener in a whirlwind of martial prowess, thundering drums, militant keyboards and doomsday trumpets. Some pure martial industrial track prologues take the listener by the throat with their hard-hitting power and baroque-like fanciful bombast, like a whirlpool percussion holocaust; some tracks focus on delivering this mysteriously melancholic chamber music, driven by string instruments and a piano, but these minimalist interludes are scarce and far between. The better part of the body of music captured on _Conquest of the Ancient Halls_ is lush, multi-layered and larger than life.

Aardia's imaginative work bears the characteristics of refined optimism coupled with the gravest of tragedies; at times absolutely somber and stern, at others it allows the meager rays of sunlight to penetrate the thick layers of the governing sadness.

Epic from beginning to end, there's not a single dull moment within this excellent recording, and although Aardia's music is not exceptionally challenging an experience in any way -- just beautiful and awe-inspiring -- it is the best in this field of music this reviewer has listened to in recent times, and an absolutely fresh surprise coming from both a band and a label he was not in terms with until now, but a recording this reviewer will not quickly forget.

Contact: http://www.cache64.com/Aardia/

(article published 28/3/2011)

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