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Astral Domine - 'Arcanum Gloriae' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/20/c4/69/arc-97-1401847592.jpg Hot

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If you love melody, riffs, epic orchestration and tales of humankind then this might just surprise you...it did me!

It is said that your first experience of "doing it" stays in your mind forever... well, being a huge supporter and admirer of this magazine since its conception, I now get the chance, nay the honour, of writing my first ever review for it. But has Italian Symphonic/Power Metal band Astral Domine's debut album become a magical, unforgettable affair or simply just another proverbial notch on the bedpost?

'Arcanum Gloriae' (roughly translated as "glorious secret") has taken almost three years to come to fruition. AD's founder, Luca Gagnoni (lead guitar) has gathered a talented band of warriors (Marco Scorletti – vocals, Francesco Delogu – rhythm guitar, Yeshan Gunawardena – keyboards, Mirko Margiotti – bass and Davide Di Patrizio – drums) to interpret and project the music and its themes of love, death, glory and moral fortitude. Some may be contemplating running for the hills (or the next review) simply by my mention of "Power Metal"...but wait! There really is something on this album for everyone...trust me!

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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'Arcanum...' opens with the title track, a spoken, atmospheric narrative which sets the tone perfectly. But it is on 'Holy Knights' where we first hear what AD are all about. Yes, there are double kick drum patterns, but these are spasmodic and constantly usurped by swirling keys, choral arrangements and impressive guitar breaks from Gagnoni and Delogu. Initially, I was a little perturbed with Scorletti's warbling vocals; however, once the band settled in mid-tempo territory his vocals actually shone through. Highlights on this opus are many – 'King Of North' commences with a beautiful harpsichord intro, which succumbs to a catchy, galloping melody with short neo-classical guitar breaks, and of course the infamous double kick drum, which by this time has become secondary to proceedings.

Nestling at the core of the album is 'Where Heroes Die'; unquestionably AD's signature dish; lasting almost ten minutes, it bubbles away with so many flavours, tempos and effects – it even has a guest vocal appearance by Fabio Lione (Rhapsody of Fire). That said his input is difficult to differentiate from Scorletti's vocals, unless you're a Power Metal aficionado of course. Every album needs at least one ballad; here we have two high quality songs that give the listener some respite – 'Moonlight' is a heart-wrenching song of love, loneliness and loss, whilst the sumptuous 'My Lord' could have escaped straight out of Les Miserables.

If your feet are planted firmly in Power Metal territory alone, then you may be a little disappointed in 'Arcanum Gloriae'. However, if you love melody, riffs, epic orchestration and tales of humankind then this might just surprise you...it did me!

Dave Crompton

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