Melodic Power Metal is often a difficult subgenre to review. A lot of it has already been done and perfected by all masters and classic acts from the late ’90s and early ’00s, but it is always refreshing to discover a new release that manages to keep up with those standards and deliver a good collection of Power Metal with all the right elements mixed in the right way. Mexican band Fugatta gives us “The Darkest Planet”, the third album of their career, and a very good example of how Melodic Power Metal should be done. The band pours all the ingredients of the subgenre into this album: amazing leads, pumping drums, high pitched and soaring vocals, and symphonic arrangements to rival some of the biggest bands out there. Singer Daniel Vina’s timbre strongly reminds me of the late Andre Matos in several moments throughout the recordings.
The album opens with Overture XXI, a very cinematic intro with nice choral melodies and arrangements. It succeeds at setting the mood for the rest of the album. The first proper song is “The Dark Land We Belong”, a bombastic song with a very powerful intro and catchy melodies. From the first notes, we can appreciate the mastery of all the musicians. A very catchy chorus and good leads start this album in a very effective way. “Sons of Syria” is next. An amazing keyboard lead takes us to a very varied song with very interesting eastern-sounding passages. The vocal hooks are not as memorable as in the album opener, but instrumentally, this song is amazing. “Beyond the Light” begins with an acoustic intro that soon gives way to a pounding main riff with nice dual leads. In this song, you can clearly hear some of the band’s more Prog-inspired passages. The anthemic chorus is a stand-out element in this song. Next comes “Slaves of Heaven” with a bombastic intro and a syncopated verse riff that strongly reminds me of Dark Moor. This one has to be one of my favorite tracks in the album. It has all the elements of a classic early 2000s Power Metal anthem. Special mention to the excellent guitar and keyboard dueling solos in the middle section. I am not often a big fan of instrumental songs, but “Gates of Atlantis” and its Neo-classical mastery prove me wrong. Every note in this short but virtuosic song is perfect and serves a purpose, and makes the song effectively display the composition and execution skills of the musicians without being overly
After an excellent first half of the album, I was very keen to hear what was in store for the closing half. “Lethal Virus” slows things down, but unfortunately fails at keeping the mood from the previous half. It is an okay song, but probably one of the least interesting ones on the whole album. Nice symphonic arrangements though. “Metal Invaders” is next, and although I was half-hoping for a cover of the Helloween classic of the same name, I very much enjoyed this happy song with fast drums and sing-along melodies that will put a smile on your face. Not a very adventurous track, but it doesn’t disappoint. “Duality” comes next. You can almost instantly hear where the song title comes from, as it mixes very mellow melodies with more aggressive passages that border on pure Thrash Metal. I am not sure if the result is 100% achieved, as the song can feel a bit disjointed at times, and I wasn’t a massive fan of the unclean vocals. “The Freedom of my Spirit” comes next, with the hard task of closing the album, and it does so in an amazing way. This one is an ultra-fast song with very enjoyable hooks and amazing leads. The keyboard taking the spotlight here for sure. The symphonic interlude in the middle section brings a nice change and manages to keep the song interesting and properly close a very good quality Power Metal album.
If you like your Power Metal fast, precise, and catchy, you will surely enjoy this release. The overall quality of the music and the production is high and the end product is something the band can definitely be very proud of. I am very keen to check out what else this band has to offer in the coming years.
Album highlights: The Dark Land We Belong, Slaves of Heaven, Gates of Atlantis, The Freedom of my Spirit
For fans of: Dark Moor, Angra, Shaman, Heavenly
Release Year: 2021
Label: Shamash Records
Reviewed by Roman Ibarra