There’s that cliché out there.
This idea that Power Metal must always sound like some juvenile wet dream. Hairdo dangerously close to glam, tight pants, the glaringly gaudy jacket, and the ubiquitous metal guitar shredder that should catapult you to new heights. All of that embedded in scratchy speed and soaring vocals. And garnished with a life-threatening addiction to cheese, dragon lore and trolls on steroids.
Not that all Power Metal is of that same, same, but different thing, though. Some protagonists like Gloryhammer try themselves as space goblins with unicorns to ride. And this with an insane drive and lyrics delivered on four octaves. Whereas others opted for some mixed group chanting, much to their credit. Like Temperance, whose next proof of the pudding will supposedly be out still in 2020 as well.
DarkTribe‘s January 2020 release Voici L’Homme kinda travels those well-trodden roads, even if they clearly let the hair thing behind them. And they troll bible stories as their chosen theme. No unicorns for this crew. Which turns them into what? Metallic choirboys? Well, not quite, they kept the cathedral bombast at bay. And let’s face it, biblical accounts are indeed fantastical enough to feed just the storyline a Power Metal outfit might crave.
So, true enough, you will find some pretty insane mix of Kiske-esque shenanigans, Avantasia (y’know, Sammet with his bizarre jacket) and some light version of Unleash the Archers. And for cause. In their description of the record, DarkTribe state that they take – and I quote – “…inspiration from the most famous bands of the genre with a modern and very personal twist…” as their path to fame.
So, quite unsurprisingly, Voici L’Homme (here’s the man) plainly sails in the middle of that mighty metal stream. Comfortably so and with godspeed, as the genre demands. A good strategy for Vikings who wish to avoid their longboat decked out in poisoned arrows suddenly. But – alas – if you wish to break out and go about your conquering business, you do need some serious battle plan. One that allows you to vanquish that enemy lurking in the bushes and move on to new heights.
And in Power Metal that means either to inject a new facet into a well-known playbook. Or just to step off the beaten path, strangle the fucking norms, and do your own thing. The bands doing that – by the way – are the ones that usually hit the top 10. Even if going against the grain can be a particularly risky strategy.
A March For A Prophecy – the intro – really turns out to be a prediction. I am not sure who feeds these bands this insane idea that good metal needs some sort of pseudo-orchestral intro. To whet the appetite for more – of what? And it’s surely not a great approach if they kill the whole wretched impression with a botched start into track #2 straight after that.
But as of Prism of Memory, the record really shows its colors, true to their aforementioned credo. I did like Voici L’Homme – the title track – though. The start of the track positively screams of mainstream at first, but it then takes on steam to explore cornier depths. And did I tell you? Once Anthony Agnello starts singing in French, you’ll feel some real power emerge from their tune. An energy that I did not perceive when they do English lyrics. Maybe they should have attempted to include more of that. Just sayin’.
From then on, the record plows on without all too many surprises. You get the full treatment the genre demands. High-speed metal, soaring vocals and some pretty memorable solos along the line.
Albeit that DarkTribe inject a bit more energy into their tune after mid-point. Even if – at times – their tune sails a tad too dangerously close to those Amaranthe-esque waters one must avoid. But as a bonus point, they did keep that proverbial urge for cheese to acceptable levels, even if The Hunger Theory kinda drowns in it.
Hey, things even turn onto thrashier territory in According To Darkness for a while. A track that then disintegrates into something Arrayan Path might typically deliver. Which – in itself – is not a bad thing.
In the end, Voici L’Homme does deliver that Power Metal the fan base most probably desires. It really is down-the-middle fare that neither looks right nor left, but really fast-tracks its tune down those roads many others already rode down to fame already. Which is – come to think of it – exactly what they promised.
Will this make it a bad record?
Absolutely not. The metal is solid and the song-writing right where it belongs. DarkTribe also made a distinct effort to keep the quality of their metal at pretty high levels. Which – by the way – for sure got them an extra point on that infamous rating thing. But all of that happens in the midst of that safe channel, where Power Metal thrives.
So, if this is your fancy, then look no further than Voici L’Homme. Should you – however – yearn for something off the beaten path, then you need to search elsewhere.
Get dat tune: