Dark Horizon - Son Of Gods
Steelborn Records
Epic Power Metal
8 songs (58'26)
Release year: 2002
Steelborn Records
Reviewed by Mike

Dark Horizon hail from Italy and play epic power metal with symphonic and neoclassical overtones. This is the debut release from the band, and the first release ever from Steelborn Records. I would imagine that these guys have some Blind Guardian, Sonata Arctica, Domine, Stratovarius, and Rhapsody CD’s in their collection. I hear influences from each of these bands, however Dark Horizon manages not to release a “copycat” album.

The one thing that separates Dark Horizon from the aforementioned bands is the production – it cannot compete with the likes of Blind Guardian, Sonata Arctica and others. The music itself has a very majestic and medieval feel to it, but the lack of superior, crystal clear production reduces the impact the music has on the listener. The same day I received this CD in the mail, I was listening to Blind Guardian and Edguy as well, so the subpar production was especially evident to me. It is not poorly produced to the point of being muddled or difficult to listen to, it simply needs bigger production. At times, the music sounds quite raw, which in my opinion does not fit with the symphonic/neoclassical sound of this band. That may work for no frills thrash band, but not here. In order to become a force in the epic/symphonic metal genre, the production will have to rise to level of the other great bands of this genre. But, this is a debut album and a brand new label, so it stands to reason that the band will only improve in this area.

The music itself is quite enjoyable. The vocals are clean and majestic, somewhere between Domine and Sonata Arctica and suit the music very well. However, I think the band could have used some backing vocals a bit more often to emphasize the melodies. The first track My Dark Lord starts with a crunchy guitar riff and and then bursts into full throttle with the pounding double bass. There is heavy use (but not overuse) of the keyboard which gives the song medieval feel along the lines of Blind Guardian. The next track, Wizard is also very powerful with some fantastic soloing very much like a speedy Stratovarius cut, but the extensive keyboard use and occasional flute add a special touch to the sound. Next is the title track which sees some guest female vocals of Elvira Maione who has a very high pitched, operatic voice. The songs starts off with an acoustic guitar backed with a flute in spots and the interchanging male/female vocals, then picks up speed toward the end. The next two tracks are mid paced with speedy moments thrown in, but quite majestic at the same time with some interesting guitar solos and neoclassical keyboard use. In particular, Power of the Rune is a very symphonic cut, with obvious classical influences. Crimson Sky starts with a very ominous sounding drum line and a symphonic background. Then, the raw sounding, but crunchy guitar riff to speed things up, making for a powerful medieval tune. The album finishes with two powerful, double bass driven tunes, but with the complex keyboard and symphonic arrangements that take you to another time.

Fans of neoclassical and symphonic influenced power metal should take a serious look at this album. There is no shortage of power, yet the song structure is very complex with extensive, but varied use of keyboards. The symphonic element is sure to please Rhapsody fans and those who really enjoyed the Nightfall in Middle Earth album of Blind Guardian. Be warned however, that the production does not match that of these great bands. This is a debut album, and the production is a testament to that fact. However, the music itself is outstanding, and while it has obvious influences, I find it quite original. Not a buy-or die album, but with some improvements to the production and some more use of backing vocals for emphasis, that designation may not be too far off for this band in the future.

Killing Songs :
My Dark Lord, Wizard, Crimson Sky, although the entire album is strong.
Mike quoted 65 / 100
Other albums by Dark Horizon that we have reviewed:
Dark Horizon - Dark Light's Shades reviewed by Mike and quoted 70 / 100
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