Fairyland - _The Fall of an Empire_
(Napalm Records, 2006)
by: Jeremy Ulrey (7 out of 10)
Wow. Fairyland. Some balls. Even more impressive when you realize that they'd previously bounced back and forth between Fantasy and Fantasia. Some bands, I guess it just never gets quite fey enough. Well, I'm not usually one to tuck my sack back before getting my hands dirty, but if I must...

All kidding aside: symphonic metal. Most likely you either like it or you don't. We'll not trod upon that well-worn path, not this particular fortnight (do I always talk like this when I write, or is this shit getting into my head somehow?). Anyway, _The Fall of an Empire_ aspires well beyond the old-school Helloween style of power metal and falls pretty much right in line with what bands like Blind Guardian and (especially) Rhapsody of Fire do best: galloping, strident power metal riffs, yes, but also a penchant for multi-tracked choir vocals, keyboard-replicated symphonies, and medieval instrumentation (don't ask me to differentiate between a lute and a lyre; I'm lucky if I can tell a mandolin from a banjo, and I assure you there is no clawhammer picking on this album. Shame, really).

So we have ourselves here a symphonic prog concept album. That means we get our alternating male / female vocalists-storytellers, right? Actually, I'm making an assumption about the concept album part of that statement. I can't find any lyrics or song info on either the band's site or Napalm's, but the songs definitely have that epic, building characteristic that usually paints them as a small part of some overall story arc. Ah well. I don't feel impelled to go into a track-by-track breakdown anyway. Suffice to say, this is extremely well-produced and impeccably performed just the way symphonic metal fans like it, but ultimately it's only distinguishable in those regards.

The songwriting is fairly predictable, almost gratuitously so, making _The Fall of an Empire_ more of a diehard fan kinda thing. Even fantasy metal spoilsports like myself can be won over by the likes of a good Rhapsody or Blind Guardian album, so I'm pretty confident in my assessment here even if I'm not normally a D&D type of metal guy myself.

Contact: http://www.fairyland-metal.com/default.asp

(article published 8/3/2007)

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