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Fogalord - Masters of War

Masters of War
by Daniel Stefanov at 28 June 2017, 8:25 AM

FOGALORD is an Italian band that plays rough Blackened Death Metal with Thrash influences. Their second album… Wait, I almost got you there, didn't I? No, of course they don't play death metal, it's an Italian band, of course they play Symphonic Power Metal, and of course it's guitar and keyboards driven. And of course their album covers are half-blue, half-red. And they sing about legendary warriors and lands of fantasy.  This truly is their second album, though, after the debut, "A Legend to Believe In" hit in 2012. Now, since RHAPSODY's horribly realized "friendly" split, and MANOWAR's imminent retirement, there is surely niche opening up for epic fantasy-themed power metal, and young bands like FOGALORD eagerly rush for it.

The intro "Il racconto della tempest" and "Rising Through the Mist of Time" start the album in a classic symphonic power manner, showcasing exactly the type of sound the band aims for - complex, guitar and drums focused melodic metal. The vocals seem struggling. "Daughter of the Morning Light" carries the same melodic charge in a soft emotional context. Daniele Bisi's voice attempts a powerful emotional delivery, but feels flat and ultimately turns off from the atmosphere of the song. The beginning of "Masters of War" makes me triple-check if the first three full songs of the album really have the exact same melody in different arrangements and lyrics, or it just sounds like it. Triple-check is inconclusive. It feels as if someone suddenly switched in real time from "Masters of War" to the middle of "Rising Through the Mist of Time", I wouldn't know for at least a minute. "The Storm of Steel" is chaotic and confusing, those bagpipes should have been used in a better song, as they add unique feel to it, which is wasted in this mess.

"Absence of Light" is nearly all-instrumental epic, which alternates faster and softer segments. "The Gift of the White Lady" is an awesome soft and emotional track, and despite Daniele's breathing problems, his delivery is very suiting, as he does not strive for power, and does not fall victim to it. "The Sword's Will" is a twelve-minute epic that contains everything the album is, nothing more, nothing less. The song is good by itself, but lacks character to the point where it feels like a waste of time, having already heard every other song of the album. Overall there is nothing remarkable about "Masters of War". It is symphonic power, just as we have come to expect it. The compositions are good, interesting, saturated, and masterfully executed by all musicians, like with almost every other band in that genre (bad musicians quickly find out they'd be much more successful in more extreme genres, like Thrash, Black or Metalcore). But the blessing of having mostly good musicians in a genre is also a curse, as I can rarely tell one symphonic power band from another, if I don't immediately recognize the vocalist. And since they all so much love being guest singers for various projects, it gets even harder. Now, Daniele Bisi really needs to either start shaping his music to fit his voice, or give vocal duties over to another vocalist. He is able to hit high notes, true, but often sounds false and has problems with emotional segments as everything is delivered at almost full power all the time. His voice being so powerful, ends up bringing down the brilliance of the underlying music. It also does not help that lyrics are so damn descriptive. I understand it is a story that needs to be told, but using fewer words gives so much better results - it is easier to follow and sing, it does not overshadow the music, it does not hang the fate of the album on the abilities of the singer alone, and it does not sound so pompous and kitschy.

The album "Masters of War" has about two times as many words in it as would be needed, and Daniele struggles to deliver them. I often find myself dreaming of a pure instrumental mix of the songs. I have some remarks about the production, but the fault for that may be in my new headphones, so I will ignore them. All in all the album would be pleasant to listen to for devoted fans of symphonic power metal, who like or can ignore the vocals. I personally did not find anything of interest in it, as it goes the extra mile to uphold to every standard of typical Italian symphonic power metal, and ends up being generic in a genre that was created to fight mediocrity.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 3
Memorability: 5
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

1. Il racconto della tempesta
2. Rising Through the Mist of Time
3. Daughter of the Morning Light
4. Masters of War
5. By the Everspring Tree
6. The Storm of Steel
7. Absence of Light
8. When the Blizzard Awakes
9. In Everwinter Wait
10. The Gift of the White Lady
11. The Sword's Will
Stefano Paolini - Guitars
Daniele Bisi - Vocals, Keyboards
Nicolò Bernini - Drums
Giuseppe Lombardo - Bass
Record Label: Limb Music


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