The Blacksmith Tales is an Italian septet. This musical project started in the Nineties when multi-instrumentalist David Del Fabro (backing vocals, piano, keyboards and duduk) in fact wrote all the material on piano. The story and the music on The Dark Presence are inspired by symbols and images from ancient history. From the very first moment I am delighted by their blend of Old School symphonic rock, prog metal and folk.
The 13 tracks alternate between mellow, up-tempo beats and sumptuous eruptions (creating lots of tension and dynamics), embellished with outstanding work on vintage keyboards, harder-edged guitar play, and fuelled by an often thunderous rhythm-section.
My absolute highlight is the opener, the epic titletrack, close to 12 minutes. It starts atmospheric, including delicate sequencing, followed by a slow rhythm with distorted guitar and synthesizer flights. Then the mood changes to dreamy with tender piano and soaring strings, the English vocals are pleasant, I have no problem with the obvious accent. Gradually the music becomes more lush and compelling, culminating in a bombastic up-tempo with propulsive guitar riffs and awesome work on the Hammond, Minimoog and Mellotron (choir section), Old School keyboards rule, wow! In the end a heavy metal solo and a swinging rhythm with an exciting duel between a fat Minimoog and fiery guitar.
Another strong track is Golgotha. It begins in a mellow climate, wonderfully coloured with first a catchy piano and soaring keyboards and then the sound of the Indian tablas, blended with Mellotron strings, I love the sultry atmosphere. Next heavy guitar work and flashy Minimoog runs, followed by a mellow part with high pitched female vocals, gradually turning bombastic with heavy guitar. The end is subtle featuring a blend of sequencing and soaring strings, a fine musical idea.
I am also pleased with the other epic composition entitled Possessed By Time, close to 18 minutes. The moods frequently alternate between dreamy and bombastic, embellished with Grand piano, ominous soaring strings, howling guitar runs, fat Minimoog flights, classical orchestrations and flute. The final part delivers strong female vocals, blended with hypnotizing drums, tender piano and a choir sound, a very compelling atmosphere, with a lot of tension, this is 'trademark Blacksmith Tales'!
Most of the shorter tracks sound mellow, like the ballad Rain... Of Course! (sparkling piano and Minimoog flights), Interlude (wonderful blend of warm vocals, flute, piano and twanging acoustic guitar), Chapter LXIV (sitar sound, whispering vocals and sequencing) and Last Hero's Crusade (melancholical vocals and piano, topped with folky acoustic rhythm guitar).
The final composition Book Of Coming Forth By Day (8.27) is a strong goodbye, it showcases the huge potential of the band, and its dynamic and varied sound. The song starts with a fine blend of folk and classical featuring warm vocals, tender piano and twanging classical guitar. Then Heavy Prog rules with blistering guitar, swirling Hammond and fat Minimoog, topped with powerful vocals. Next the band returns to a mellow atmosphere with delicate piano work, but soon a heavy outburst follows, it sounds like 'classical meets prog metal' with howling and biting guitar, a thunderous rhythm-section, classical orchestrations and a Minimoog solo. Gradually the music turns into a slow rhythm with emotional vocals, a very compelling final part, the end of a varied, dynamic and exciting musical adventure.
What a promising band, I highly recommend this album!
**** Erik Neuteboom (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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