Armored Dawn - Barbarians in Black
AFM Records
Epic Power Metal
10 songs (39'32")
Release year: 2018
AFM Records
Reviewed by Alex

The last couple of weeks have been pretty rough both physically and emotionally, so I was consciously looking for music a little less serious and quite a bit more positive in its disposition. Reading the description of atmospheric Viking metal by Armored Dawn (not to be confused with symphonic gothic metallers Amberian Dawn or American stalwarts Armored Saint), I was looking forward to give Barbarians in Black a spin in a most welcome fashion. Learning that Armored Dawn come from the place no other than Brazil, it was also rather interesting to see how Viking culture and message are being interpreted in the warmth of Sao Paolo.

I will start from the end. Armored Dawn were able to lighten the heart, provide a necessary distraction, and are a strong commercial metal entity. Good for them. Yet, they are not the band which would appeal to my metal senses every time I hear them. They served the moment properly, but a breakthrough transcending band they are not. They are not as bad as some power and modern metal haters would paint them to be either.

Beware of the Dragon very quickly trades a clean keyboard intro in favor of muscular riffs with the bottom end way overpunched in terms of production seeking artificial extra heaviness. Beware of the Dragon is a pretty epic tune, almost soundtrack like, with that main chorus melody elevating the song to considerable heights. And so Armored Dawn go on, to the superficial struggle between superthick bass/drums and peering through smatterings of keyboards, guitars delivering expected riffs and here-and-there solos, all along the lines of attractive but typical song structures (Bloodstone). The band can go on to not all things being breakneck, Men of Odin having a pretty dreamy chorus, but the opening hookline is so painfully familiar I think Armored Dawn ought to put in a credit to whoever they borrowed it from.

Vocally, Eduardo Parras may be a fine lead man, but the band is very much caught up in gang vocals and multilayering the vocal lines, it almost always sounds like the crowd is singing (Viking appropriate). This approach doesn’t let Eduardo profess his individuality except probably balladic Sail Away. Armored Dawn are not quite content to be simply epic and heroic (Bloodstone, Gods of Metal, title track), which is commendable. Yet their attempts at differentiation made my head scratch a bit. The almost breakdown before the solo in Beware of the Dragon should have been a warning sign, because if the vocals were any harsher in Unbreakable or guitars any more downtuned in Eyes Behind the Crow, I could predict that the next album from Brazilian Vikings would be in the realm of melodeath/metalcore. If Bjorn Strid were to be invited as a guest, mid-career Soilwork will be the asymptote Unbreakable and Eyes Behind the Crow sound like. And then this obvious desire to maintain electric and dirty heaviness, to make the whole thing buzzing, at the expense of cleaner, more pronounced melodies, Armored Dawn will pay any price for no one to accuse them sounding overpolished.

Helpful marketing campaign and competent execution should grow Armored Dawn fanbase, borrowing from equal parts power, symphonic and, as I suspect, modern metal realms. Brazilians make a strong bid with Barbarians in Black, and I respect that, although I will not be joining the aforementioned fan ranks.

Killing Songs :
Beware of the Dragon, Bloodstone, Gods of Metal
Alex quoted 71 / 100
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