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Ancient Empire – Wings Of The Fallen Award winner

Ancient Empire
Wings Of The Fallen
by Dave Nowels at 24 September 2019, 5:16 AM

Full disclosure, I freaking love ANCIENT EMPIRE. I was introduced to this California Classic Metal band last year when I was assigned their 2018 release, “Eternal Soldier”. I was blown away by that release and bestowed it 10/10 rating, essentially a masterpiece. Then, I somehow managed to then go ahead and leave it off my best albums of 2018 list. An absolutely, boneheaded and inexcusable move.  Doing some back research for this current review, I delved into the vast Metal-Temple archives and discovered quite an interesting fact. Metal-Temple has reviewed each of ANCIENT EMPIRE'S four releases, and each album has garnered either a 9/10 or a 10/10. That's strong. I can only speculate on how many bands have that strong of a showing with their first four albums, but I'm betting that number is small. I'm guessing rating that high in the first five albums is even a smaller number. But yet here we are.

“Wings Of The Fallen” is an album I really didn't expect, and certainly not this soon. In fact, I vaguely remember something about the band's retirement, but to that end, band founder Joe Liszt (SHADOWKILLER) has stated that only longtime collaborators Steve & Rich Pelletier retired. Whatever may have happened, it seems Liszt decided there was another story to tell. With that said, the current line-up for AE is Joe Liszt on his usual vocals, guitars and bass, and an uncredited drummer. Regardless, “Wings Of The Fallen” is another old school classic Power/Prog metal masterpiece through and through.

Like each AE album, this one is a conceptual release, with each track a chapter of a story. The song compositions are NWOBHM in theory, with galloping riffs and soaring leads. The bass runs snake about the main structure like a solo themselves, while the drums thunder with double kick splashes in all the right places. (“The Last Survivor” being a perfect example). Melodic and harmonious, the songs are captivating musically as well as lyrically. It's a tale of agony and defeat, and though this one has a air of finality, a small opening seems left available should Liszt need the AE story to continue. I selfishly hope it does.

I'm dumbfounded that ANCIENT EMPIRE isn't more well known. Literally, you could randomly pick any of the band's five albums and you would be listening to a masterful work of art start to finish. It's difficult to single out songs as highlights when they're all so damn strong. But if pressed, “A New Dawn”, “Edge Of The Abyss” the aforementioned “The Last Survivor”, and the desolate instrumental, “Seraph Requiem” stood out for me. “Wings Of The Fallen” is yet another masterpiece and one that no Classic Metal, Power, Prog or NWOBHM fan should be without. May the ANCIENT EMPIRE never falter or fall. Long Live the ANCIENT EMPIRE!

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. A New Dawn
2. Born In Fire
3. Wings Of The Fallen
4. On The Horizon
5. Seraph Requiem
6. The Last Survivor
7. The Ghosts Remain
8. Edge Of The Abyss
Joe Liszt – Vocals, Bass & Guitars
Uncredited - Drums
Record Label: Stormspell Records


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Edited 27 January 2023

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