“Tales of Avalon: The Lament”

By Dr. Abner Mality

Italian label Scarlet Records has had some pretty dodgy power metal bands on its roster in the past, but Dark Avenger is not one of them. “Tales of Avalon: The Lament” is a very nice surprise for fans of traditional power metal and one of the best examples of this style I’ve heard recently.

There’s something very comforting about Dark Avenger that gives me the warm fuzzies. The subject matter here about the fall of King Arthur should have a longer beard than Merlin himself, it’s so old and familiar, but there’s a reason this story has endured throughout the centuries: it’s timeless and elemental. Dark Avenger’s approach is pleasingly heavy, with a thick, warm guitar sound and if you can imagine a cross between classic Helloween and oldschool Queensryche with a few symphonic touches, you have this band’s sound in a nutshell. What a relief that they don’t overdo the orchestra and choir elements…they’re here but they don’t coat the music in a gooey glaze like so many power/prog bands do. One exception is the ballad “Can You Feel It?”, where kiddy choirs make me itchy and uncomfortable.

The first part of the album is straight up heavy, with “From Father To Son” being a great example of classic European power metal. “Doomsday Night” is stinging and precise speed metal, very well played, while “The Knight on the Hill” delivers the Queensryche influence. The vocalist is excellent, a very good merger between Michael Kiske and Geoff Tate, with a lot of drama in his tone. The second half of the album starts to lean towards the more melodic, as piano and gentler tones prevail. But even this is delivered with authority. Yes, this is plenty clichéd and there are some dodgy moments, but even these kind of work in the album’s favor. It’s like an old friend you accept, warts and all.

Dark Avenger have dealt a powerful blow with this regal piece of steel!