Artist:  Ancient Bards
   Title: Soulless Child
   Label: Limb Music

This is the second album from the female vocal fronted Italian band.  Their debut shocked the metal world, with its symphonic epic power metal raging throughout.  The heroes from the first album can be found in this, their follow-up to the critically acclaimed 'The Alliance of the Kings'.  This sextet do what they do best, featuring dual guitar wielding along with keyboards and the ubiquitous bass and drum providing the backing for the amazingly voiced vocalist, Sarah.

The symphonic, near melodic metal, is the mainstay of this album, using epic guitar solos to create an instrumental backdrop that is fraught with lightness (for metal) and is baked with the use of drums and bass to perfection.  The keyboard work as well is amazingly fluid and sensual, floating in-between and over the drum, guitars and bass at times.  However, unlike the use of synths in some albums, this does not detract but adds to the epicness of the album. It, in fact, provides a perfect structure on which to thread the vocals, which are amazing.

Sarah works well within her range, using her voice to propel the story-like focus of the album above all other things.  The odd near-top range vocals are controlled and propelled with her strong voice, much like an early Nightwish with Tarja, as this is what this reminds me of.

Each of the songs has a different focus as part of the story, and the story is so well worked that it fits in neatly with each of its parts, creating a dynamic album that can be listened to at any point without ruining the flow of it all.  The final song, 'Hope Dies Last', is a near fifteen minute epic that uses and improves upon the shorter songs within the album, creating a crescendo of rhythm and fluidity to crown the album.  

A favourite song at the moment is 'To The Master of Darkness', which not only relies on the string and drum section but also allows a keyboard solo to mesh within it and not ruin the fluidity and focus of the music.  This band has the ability to be the best at what they do, and they do it well, and add themselves as an asset to the Italian symphonic metal scene.

Review by: Kerry H


1. Struggle For Life
2. To The Master Of Darkness
3. Gates Of Noland
4. Broken Illusion
5. All That Is True
6. Valient Ride
7. Dinanzi Al Flagello
8. Soulless Child
9. Through My Veins
10. Hope Dies Last



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