Saturday, April 6, 2013

Dark Moor - Between Light and Dark (2003)

Dark Moor are a power metal/neo classical band from Madrid, Spain. They have survived through various line-up changes, having shifted through several vocalists, both male and female. The one for this album was Elisa Martin, she also spent some time with Fairyland (on an album I don't own) and now is with Dreamaker. This was her  last album with Dark Moor. I also own another one, "The Gates of Oblivion".

This one is an 8 track EP and has a folk vibe to it. Elisa's voice is lower in pitch and deeper than many of the other females on the metal scene, sounding almost masculine at times, whilst at others been higher pitched with a slightly savage edge. She does lack the high and pure sound of, say, Nightwish.

The album cover is appealing, albeit rather dark and moody looking. Two angels gaze from either side, at the stylised D and M whilst beside them a gloomy horizon. The lyrics inside are set in a large and very easy to read font (I think it might be Century Schoolbook, or maybe Georgia) with the band members faces intermingling with waves between them.

"Memories" opens the album with its haunting melancholia. Elise's voice bleeds desperation. The instrumentation is light and very definitely folk-inspired.

The wispy voice of a flute leads us into "From Dawn to Dusk", another folk piece with light instrumentation and a good melody. There is hope here, and faith, but also regret.

Strumming guitar and mournful melodies lead us into "A Lament of Misery" with  lilting vocals that soar into a swansong.There are strings in this song too, adding to both the lament and the misery.

Piano brings in "Echoes of the Sea" with its haunting and somewhat ominous edge, like some beast lurking out there, beyond the tide. It too has violins, leading into an energetic-ish reel, perhaps a pod of dolphins at play in the waves? This appears to be purely a classical instrumental, so how many of the actual band are involved in it, I do not know. Someone on Amazon called it chamber music, and it is rather peaceful, but quite evocative.

"Mistery of the Goddess" returns to the folk-ish melodies and structures. Elise's voice is gentle and soothing, rising in passion for the chorus.
"In my heart, in my heart, I feel so alive... with you!"
Losing the folk, we head into "The Shadow of the Nile", a bonus track from "The Gates of Oblivion". Here Elisa shows a little more vocal diversity, and is joined by backing male vocals adding a pleasantly deep harmonies. The music is also heavier, with the symphonic influences and a decent guitar and keyboard solo.

The keyboard melodies and energetic, triumphant beat continue into "Dies Irae", a track also on the "Gates" album, but this time with added orchestra. The male harmonies on the choir are excellent, and the rhythms very stirring.

Another classical piece, "Fall of Melnibone" is a bonus track from "Hall of Olden Dreams" and starts with classical arrangements but twists into folk, with choral vocals, before charging into Epic Power Metal. It is based on the writings of Michael Moorcock. Melnibone is his Dragon Isle. Elisa sounds somewhat like an elven queen, she has that slightly pagan edge to her voice and rises octaves effortlessly.

This album is quite different from Dark Moor's other albums, or anything else Elisa has done. The first half is softer, more melancholic and longing with a hint of brooding. The harmonies are more reminscient of mediaeval folk ballads than of the triumphant power metal they are more noted for. I enjoy it because I like the gentle folk songs and the emotive feel, but to some listeners it may prove to be a disappointment. It makes for pleasant background music while writing or engaging in other creative endeavours. The final three tracks are more in the manner we would expect from DM.

My rating is 7/10.

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