Sometimes there is nothing better than losing oneself in realms of fantasy such as Cimmeria, Krynn and Middle Earth. These other worlds feature a wide array of characters, from mighty barbarians and evil wizards to creatures of myth and legend.
Hidden amongst the mists, is a new land to discover. Waiting, to share stories of its own. The tales therein are told by Epic Symphonic Power Metal band MEMORIES OF OLD. Prepare to play The Zeramin Game.
Exordium sets the scene, creating a great sense of imagery within its narrative to guide you through the album.
Overture is exactly what it says. Like the start of any grand opera or play, it builds upon the narratives of the previous track giving you a true taste of things to come.
The Land of Xia is a powerful track, full of grand compositions all done by guitarist Billy Jeffs (formerly of NIGHTMARE WORLD). You are instantly introduced to this new realm “there is a world called Xia, forgotten and alone,” it is complementary to develop further the story from the previous tracks. Vocalist Tommy Johansson will be known from his guitar duties in SABATON and also vocals in MAJESTICA/REINXEED. On this track, he certainly shows he is an integral cog of this well-oiled machine.
Zera’s Shadow from the offset sticks in your head. It is incredibly catchy and conjures images of a rowing crew with its tempo riding upon a tidal wave in the bridges of the track. There is a sense of foreboding too “here in Zera’s shadow, where nobody dares to go” before a mighty guitar solo shifts the pace.
Some Day Soon is a battle cry, channelling inspiration “someday soon we’ll go down in history, we’ll explore the unknown, and our names will be carved in stone.” It is about trying to live up to expectations and being worthy of one’s fate and destiny.
Destiny is more delicate in style to some of the other tracks, allowing Tommy to show his range and diversity. There is beautiful harmonising from the band both vocally and instrumentally throughout. A contender for my favourite song on the album.
Across The Seas is littered with piracy themes that fans of early ALESTORM will be happy with: “The pirates of the seas, authority they seize.” The composition compliments these themes and takes you across the high seas with a strong sense of adventure.
Arrival bring us to the next stage of our quest. Disembark, then bang your head with this track. There are nods to AVANTASIA, KAMELOT and even POWER QUEST, whilst remaining unique enough to distance itself from those artists.
A Hooded Traveller is another narrative piece. Setting the scene for the next part of the story to be told.
Fowlen’s Revenge is very keyboard orientated and allows keyboardist Anthony Thompson to shine. It is in the same vein of some earlier SONATA ARCTICA tracks whilst being progressive and magnificent.
The Zeramin Game is an epic penultimate track. At over fourteen minutes long, it is grandiose in its delivery. It features both guitar and keyboard solos, instrumentals, narratives, and powerful harmonies.
Finale is a great accompaniment to the entire album. It brings the album to a close, anaphorically referencing the previous tracks. Acting much like an end credits score would to an epic fantasy film.
It’s an absolute delight that there is a UK based band, delving into this sub-genre within the metal scene and doing it with such magnificence. This debut stacks up there amongst the best that contemporaries in mainland Europe have created both recently and in yesteryear.
I am blessed to have previously travelled to the Land of Xia after seeing the band perform their first show at Power Metal Quest Fest last year. As this first chapter ends, I am excited for what other fables and tales are left to be discovered. Luckily with this release, one can transcend into that fantasy realm time and time again.
Words: Martin White
The Zeramin Gate will be released tomorrow via Limb Music.
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