Friday, February 15, 2013

Power Quest - Wings of Forever (2002)

The coolest thing (for me) about this album is that MY NAME IS IN IT. Well, not my real name - but the online monniker I've been using for the last 13, or so, years. Seriously, it is. I was having conversations via email with keyboardist Steve Williams. Nice guy. Anyhow, he put my name in his "thanks to" as joining the Quest. So I had to buy the album, didn't I?

A bit of history - Many, many years ago there was a very good New Zealand black metal band called Demoniac. Now, I don't really like black metal that much, but Demoniac were actually really good. Well, the two songs  that were played on the radio were: "Hammer of Damnation" and my favourite - the "Celtic Sword of Iron". (I have to say, my recording quality is equally crap and it was taped from the radio - I guess they were recorded in a basement). Anyhow, Demoniac moved off to England and three of their members joined up with some other blokes and became DragonHeart. Some time later, Dragonheart severed into two - merging with other musicians to become Dragonforce and Power Quest. I have albums by both*. Dragonforce sound like they're trying to break some sort of speed record. Power Quest are likewise pretty jolly fast.

Just for the record, Steve Williams is not one of the New Zealand members.

Because they are power metal, they should help improve my slightly maudlin mood (it's a damned good thing I'm not up to "C" and listening to Confessor, I have to say).

But first, let us admire the rather attractive digipack, which I shall slide from the sleeve and unfold, removing the little booklet so that I can admire my name. Because, well, it says "Lemurkat" inside it. It really does - right down there near the bottom of "Steve Williams thanks..." Found it? Okay, now we can study the cover - which appears to depict a one-winged angel in skin-tight leggings, with chest thrust forward, he is using a dead woman to shield him from a lightning bolt. He seems to be standing in the tsingy of Madagascar. It is all moody and I *think* he might actually be trying to ressurrect her - but who knows?

The lyrics are in this archaic style font that is actually really difficult to read. Looks nicely medieaval and authentical but oh, my eyes! 

The CD opens with the epic and rather stirring "Prelude to Destiny" with its rising symphonies and screaming conclusion, before it takes flight into the fast-paced "Wings of Forever". The vocals are strong, and of melodic pitch. The chorus stirs and swoops and glides whilst the drums beat a frenzied rhythm as they try to keep pace, the guitars skillfully weaving and diving around the vocals.

"Far Away" is Power Metal by the Book - polished riffs, catchy rhythms, vocals of a high(ish) melodic pitch. A general sense of swelling power and wellbeing that rises in your heart and sets your soul to soaring. There is something very inspiring and invigorating about the way the keyboards interact with the guitar and the vocals and the drums. One can almost imagine mountains rising blue-tipped to the sky, whilst dragons soar and glide on the wind currents.

 Steve's in fine form on his keyboards in the opening bars of "Glory Tonight". Another polished, powerful song with nicely triumphant lyrics:
"We'll all find some glory tonight"
Oooh, nice keyboard solo, folloewd up by a thrilling guitar solo. How many fingers does that guy have? Surely smoke must be curling up from them?

"Power Quest part 1" is another sophisticated, stylish and polished piece.

"How will I know what I'm searching for, living my life uncertain. Who will reveal what's behind the door? Or must the quest continue."

Then we fly fast "Beyond the Stars" which declares that "Forever the Quest must go on". Slamming drums, roaring guitars, soaring to the skies. It almost feels like the drummer favours that one drum. I'm not sure what it's called, but it's of a higher pitch than the others and bam-bam-bam. Very nice keyboard solo there, Steve.

Now, about time for a power ballad as we fall into the sweet tempered piano of "Immortal Plains". Good rousing choruses. Not quite "Glory to the Brave" but still, a heart-stirring piece.

And if you're feelin g a wee bit melancholic, then "Follow Your Heart" will draw you out of it, urging you to do just that - and your dreams will come true. It's an inspiring, hopeful song. The sort of song that makes you feel capable of achieving almost anything.

WIth a slightly sinister edge, "Freedom of Thought" reminds me of another song, the drum rhythms being ever-so-slightly familiar. I can't quite put my finger on it however...

We fade out and conclude this album with the aching guitar chords of "Distant Lands". One cannot help but feel the sun set, the life and light draining from the land and shadows rising to cast it all into gloom.

Smooth polished, epic power metal.This album is pretty much flawless in its representation of the genre. It is an album that stimulates the soul and invigorates the imagination. The vocals are high, but pleasing to listen to and the only thing I found a bit distracting was the pounding percussion line, which is so very rapid and reptitive, of much the same pitch, through many of the songs.

I'll give it 8/10.

Thanks Steve!

* but not by Demoniac, because I never realised they had released one. And now that I have, it is likely impossible to obtain (like any Lung**, Nine Livez or Push Push cd).
** Hey, I found Lung on YouTube too! No video but at least I can hear the sludgy, gluggy old NZ sound - now NZ music is all clean and polished and no longer sounds like it's recorded in a basement. I have no idea whose dog that is.

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