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Taken - Unchained Award winner

Taken
Unchained
by Rachel Montgomery at 27 May 2019, 9:59 PM

TAKEN has released their sophomore album. Spanish power metal band formed in 2013 in Pamplona, their first album was self-released before being picked up. Their opening track, “Worgen Slayer,” begins with a powerful, melodic intro chorus with some great sweeps and symphonic elements. The featured vocalist has a beautiful, operatic tenor used to a wonderful effect here. It reminds me of the epic bombast you’d find in DRAGONFORCE or BLIND GUARDIAN. All in all, it’s a strong opener that hits fast and gets you pumped for the rest of the album.

The next three songs are fast, but they don’t sound repetitive. The second song, “Back to Zero,” is also a strong opener, but it changes up the orchestration, so it doesn’t sound exactly like the first one, as does the next track, “A Thunder in the Storm.” It keeps the energy of the album and keeps up the great symphonics. The third track is a little slower and more anthemic, but still has power and a great energy behind it. “The Land of the Rising Sun” picks up speed again, and the ambiance reminds me of a videogame (not a bad thing, I could see this in a “Castlevania” game). It has some great drum work, and again, the ambiance fits the song.

The first of their “slow songs” (“A New Beginning” is only slow for the first minute), has a beginning that varies the tracks more, which is good, but I’m not sure if the vocals can carry it through the slow songs; I would have liked them to be clearer in the beginning, similar to the following track. “Muse” is their actual slow song, and while its solid throughout, I thought the vocalist’s upper register was a little patchy. It was short, and I would have honestly liked a better orchestrated ballad here to showcase the instrumentals.

They pick up the pace again with a fast ballad, “Sancho the Strong.” I love the anthemic and galloping melodies that highlight the story behind the song. Again, the upper register is a little patchy, which is a recurring problem here. However, the guitar work, especially in the instrumental break, is incredible. The thematic beginning of “My Inner Monster” is well-done and enough to send a chill through anyone. The organ work and hauntingly high guitars are spot-on, and the vocals, when they growl and become theatrical are great. It’s easily my favorite song on the album for the atmosphere alone.

However, I believe the vocals are the best in “The Clockmaker’s Curse.” When the vocals soar to the upper register, they’re either clear or brief. For the most part, they stick to the deeper and middle part of David Arredono’s register, which is where he shines. The guitar solo is good as well. “Rhylian” is the official closing track of the album. I didn’t get the speaking in the beginning of the song, and I’d rather have them go right into the instrumentals. Like “Sancho the Strong,” it’s a ballad about a hero. The changing melodies throughout, the good, fast instrumentation, and the storytelling lyrics all contribute to this fitting, wonderful closer to the album.

“We Are (featuring Iker Piedrafita)” is a cover of the “One Piece” theme. On its own, it’s a fast-paced powerhouse with great vocals and instrumentation. Compared to the original, it’s less pop-sounding (obviously) and less warm (more aggressive than assertive), but it’s still a solid cover. Overall, the album was great. If you’re a fan of “Blind Guardian,” “Dragonforce,” “Sonata Arctica,” or “Dragonland”, this album is definitely for you. Aside from my criticism of the vocalist’s upper register (which can easily be strengthened with some vocal coaching), this was a great album.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Worgen Slayer
2. Back to Zero
3. A Thunder in the Storm
4. The Land of the Rising Sun
5. A New Beginning
6. Muse
7. Sancho the Strong
8. My Inner Monster
9. The Clockmaker’s Curse
10. Rhylian
11. We Are 
Lineup:
David Arredondo – Vocals
Javier Larumbe – Lead Guitar
Iosu Nuñez – Lead Guitar
DavidKBD – Keyboards
Diego Trueba – Keyboards
Dani Moreno – Bass
Jon Huarte – Drums
Record Label: El Gringo Records
     


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Edited 22 October 2019
 

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