FAIRYLAND
"The Fall of an Empire"

(Napalm)

01. Endgame
02. The Fall of an Empire
03. Lost In the Dark Lands
04. Slaves Forlorn
05. The Awakening
06. Eldanie Uellë
07. Clanner of the Light
08. To the Havenrod
09. The Walls of Laemnil
10. Anmorkenta
11. In Duna
12. The Story Remains
13. Look Into Lost Years

RATING: 8.5/10

Do not let it be said that French symphonic metallers FAIRYLAND tricked you into buying "The Fall of an Empire". If you buy an album from a band called FAIRYLAND and you expect anything other than the utterly over-the-top bard-metal you get, you're either illiterate or retarded. Anyone not into Middle Earth, bombast, elves, Renaissance faires and loopy theatrical metal, just stop reading now.

Still here? Okay, next question: were you let down by the last RHAPSODY album, just a little bit? Think they've lost their way? FAIRYLAND will restore your faith in bombastic, symphonic power metal, because they can be as theatrical as anyone, but even at their most ludicrous, they never lose sight of the song underneath all those layers of synthesized harpsichords and triple-tracked vocal choirs.

That's not to say FAIRYLAND (man, I feel light in the loafers just typing that word) are RHAPSODY clones, though there's definitely an influence. There's a little more Gothic medieval flavor in the choral work here, similar to Holland's ORPHANAGE, and a more clear-eyed focus on the guitar as dominant instrument. There are still movie-soundtrack interludes (see "Slaves Forlorn"), and they occasionally suffer from the smaller budget FAIRYLAND no doubt deals with — keyboard parts instead of live instruments, that sort of thing. But check out the vocals in "The Awakening" — when the choirs kick in, it'll send shivers down your spine, and lead vocalist Max Leclerqc has an emotional and commanding power metal voice, well-suited to the material here.

Highlights include the lush, but speedy and energetic, "Clanner of the Light" (that chorus!), the majestic "In Duna" with its female vocals and elfin harpsichord, and the stirring title track. It's not an exaggeration to say that FAIRYLAND, on only their second proper full-length, are just about ready to stand at the top tier of the epic/symphonic genre, alongside BLIND GUARDIAN and RHAPSODY, purveyors of cinematic concept albums that transport the listener to fantastical worlds. "The Fall of an Empire" offers nothing new or particularly original to the style, but it's so impeccably put together and compelling, it's bound to become a favorite of the swords-and-sorcery set in no time.

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