In the latest installment of the Black Crystal Sword Saga, Italian symphonic metallers Ancient Bards’ ‘Origine’ takes a step back from the story so far and fills in a bit of history. For fans, this review will remain spoiler-free and will mostly focus on the musical aspect of the album so that they can enjoy the story upon listening.
“Now it is time for you to know about its genesis.” These first words are uttered in the opening to the title track Origine. This is essentially the introduction to both the album and what story will be told over the course of the remaining nine songs. Impious Dystopia opens with the ominous choral vocals that explodes into double-time kick drums and intense, hurried orchestral/guitar. Sara Squadrani’s voice soars above, beautifully recounting the story.
Opening with a loud and rushing intro, Fantasy’s Wings evolves into a calm and quiet verse that allow Squadrani’s vocal part to ring out. This is fairly short-lived however, when the rest of the instruments chime back in for more fist-raising adventurous melody. The second half of the song features an intstrumental section complete with ripping and heroic guitar solo that beautifully flows into another majestic choral part before the song concludes with a final spiel from Squadrani.
Aureum Legacy takes a different turn and opens with a short but peaceful piano part. Very emotional words come from Squadrani throughout the verses, which build into to more filled-out choruses packed with vocal harmonies, epic strings, and the energetic double-kicks. Garattoni’s bass line carries all the way through the song, and again in the second instrumental half an epic guitar solo from Pietronik builds with emotion. This promptly changes to an ominous chanting followed by a final heart-wrenching resolve with soaring vocals and an abrupt and dramatic halt.
Another quiet opener, Light is jam-packed with all kinds of emotion. The first verse features soft, melancholic, harmonizing vocals. It then evolves with more of a rhythm behind the melody that slowly builds into the both emotionally- and musically-explosive chorus. Not shedding a tear in this song would be a challenge. Even the short guitar solo just screams feeling, and the key change to go with a final all-out chorus provides an uplifting boost that rounds off the song perfectly.
Oscurità opens straight into soft vocals that makes you initially think it will be another gentle song. However, ominous strings follow on that then explode into the full orchestral outfit, slamming you in the face with galloping guitars, and drums to boot. The verses are fairly tame but surprise growls take over in between each. The second half begins with more epic instrumental goodness, which is heavily orchestral to begin with. Guitar arppegios follow after that evolve and build into a fully-fledged epic solo, before both orchestral and guitar solos are interchanged. The dramatic choral parts pair with Squadrani’s vocals add to the dark but exciting mood of the song.
Exploding into life next is Titanism that opens full bore with choral chants and a rhythm you can’t help but headbang to. This song reminds me of both Fairyland and Rhapsody Of Fire in terms of its style. The guitar solo begins seamlessly with the melody that came before, and explodes into a short shred-fest before it once again blends with the continuing rhythm. It flows into the chorus chanting again, a short time after which it stops and the underlying rhythm continues to the end of the song.
The Hollow begins with a dramatic deep-voiced choral chant that segues into a captivating string/orchestral section that builds into an epic piece. It has a feel to it like it should belong in an epic fantasy film. There are no solo vocals in this song, but the choral works together with the orchestral and heavy guitars to create a masterpiece of a song. More tears (of excitement this time) were shed listening to this piece.
With a dramatic start to the song, Home Of The Rejects is fast-paced, with the intro full of double-kicks and chugging guitars; even the verses are intense and filled out. Vocals soar through the choruses, over the fast underlying rhythms. Partway through the song descends into a low guitar chugging rhythm before rising up into an almost spooky guitar solo. It flows gracefully into another pre-chorus followed by one final dramatic chorus.
The final song for the album and a nearly 15 minute epic, The Great Divide begins with what, much like The Hollow, sounds perfect for a cinematic score. It is also a very story-heavy song. Not even two minutes in however and the guitar comes onto the scene, before Squadrani’s beautiful vocals come in for the first verse. Sometimes long songs can drag on, but listening to this one went really quickly. It was so dynamic and featured a huge variety of different sections – choral, instrumental, orchestral, guitar solos – that made it exciting to listen to from start to finish. After all of that, the song concludes with a final impactful narrative to round off the whole album.
Overall, ‘Origine’ is an epic album to listen to. They stay true to the symphonic metal style, and the variety between and within each of the songs keeps the music captivating and engaging to listen to from start to finish.