|Manticora - Darkness With Tales To Tell
01. ... From Far Beyond
02. The Chance Of Dying In A Dream
03. Dynasty Of Fear
04. Dragon's Mist
06. The Nightfall War
07. The Puzzle
08. Critical Mass
09. Lost Souls
10. The Twilight Shadow
11. Shadows With Tales To Tell
12. Dead End Solution [South Korea bonus]
That's no secret that record companies nowadays praise Power metal bands. The result is a large number of different bands hailing from almost every country possible on earth and that's also what the sarcastic spirits call the Power metal "clones". Now, if I start with that unusual introduction that is to justify that the band Manticora from Denmark is everything but one of the aforementioned clones. And "Darkness With Tales To Tell" is there to prove me right. Playing a smart Power metal, i.e. including lots of progressive elements, this band definitely scores a point by doing so in order to impose their uniqueness to the metal scene. For information, the lineup on this album was as follow: Lars F. Larsen [vocals], Kristian H. Larsen and Flemming Schultz [guitars], Rene S. Nielsen [bass], Mads Volf [drums] and Jeppe Eg [keyboards].
Quickly, a word about the whole design of the album; the global artwork kicks ass, the cover is one of my favorite ones, the booklet is very well illustrated [with chilling background images], the logo of the band is splendid and the crucial pieces of information are all present.
But our major concern here is, as always, the music. In my opinion, this album is absolutely flawless composition wise. All these songs are great, powerful, epic, fully interesting and on top of that darn original. From 'The Chance Of Dying In A Dream' to 'The Nightfall War', the album is an absolute killing machine.
And then, what we could call a break in the album is the magnificent ballad 'The Puzzle'. That was a great idea indeed to throw that track precisely at that point in the track list. It's even a "smart ballad", considering its lyrics: "I can't remember my own name | I look around, am I insane? | Eternity is lost, and I am turning upside down | Forever in the puzzle of my life". How good is that, huh?
Talking about lyrics, the next song, 'Critical Mass', is both my favorite track on the album and the most well-written track: "I can't escape the numb feeling of | Perpetual deceiving dreams again | Problems too dark to touch, we are reaching critical mass, the end". Not a common topic among Power metal writers, 'Critical Mass' is definitely more oriented Prog metal lyrically.
A trio of powerful anthems composes the finish of ?Darkness With Tales To Tell?: 'Lost Souls', 'The Twilight Shadow' and 'Shadows With Tales To Tell'. Let me tell you that these guys have energy for sure! Each of these songs has its own characteristic but a common atmosphere emerged from them, and overall from the entire album, a sour darkness floats in the air; it's not happy warriors of metal unlike Manowar to name an example. And that's another great feature of that record. I mean, one of my favorite lines is the following one: "If everyone had a choice, religion would fade at dawn", not really typical Manowar, huh?
As a conclusion, I can say that the Italian label Scarlet Records had in Manticora one of the most original Power metal bands out there at the time, unfortunately for them, the band recently released their album "Hyperion" to start honoring a deal with Century Media. And considering the quality of this "Darkness With Tales To Tell", no wonder Manticora appealed to a major record company. But for "Darkness With Tales To Tell" still stands as a very strong release and is absolutely at the top of my Power metal pile of CDs. And believe me, it intends to stay there for a long, long time!