"Book One - The Child of Two Worlds" (Valiant Music Productions; 2004)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

If you listened to a few particular tracks on this CD, and were asked what genre of music the band played, you probably wouldn't answer "power metal." Despite an abundant number of power metal tracks here on "Book One" - the CD often becomes something else entirely.

As you might expect from a power metal band, "Book One" is a concept album, or part of an overall concept (will there be a Book Two, Book Three, etc.?). What sets this CD apart from others in the genre, however, is the band's heavy use of keyboards, piano and orchestral arrangements. Sandwiched here and there throughout the CD (and, indeed, within various tracks) are songs and segments that would be at home on an Andrew Lloyd Webber cast album. 

That's not so much a bad thing as it is a surprising thing. The power metal tracks hereon are as complex and technical as any you're likely to hear elsewhere while the slower, piano-based numbers are something different, not quite seeming out of place but being obvious in their uniqueness.

The band is excellent throughout and vocalist Andrey "Archont" Fedorenko is, for the most part, amazing in his range and delivery. There are moments, however, when it seems Fedorendko seems to either lost control or perhaps reach further into his vocals abilities than he is capable. This doesn't ever ruin a song but it does sometimes jolt the listener out of the moment.

Despite its depth of subject, "Book One" isn't as captivating as, say, CDs by the likes of Gamma Ray, etc. but it's certainly listenable. 

Archontes: Andrey "Archont" Fedorekno - voices, keyboards; Vyacheslav Molchanov - all guitars and bass; Dmitry Krivenkov - drums. 

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"The World Where Shadows Come to Life" (Valiant Music Productions/MetalAgen; 1999)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Well, the title of the CD and the title and the sound of the first track certainly had me fooled. "Opening Incantation" had me prepared for a black metal band - but nothing could be further from the truth.  Archontes play a fairly typical brand of power metal with serious nods to Germanic stalwarts Blind Guardian and Gamma Ray as well as Finland's Stratovarius.

This is the type of sound that seems to be loved the world over crossing language barriers and cultural divides throughout the late '90s and the early part of the new millennium. The riffs are exactly what you'd expect from a power metal band. There's nothing extraordinarily new with the music except for a brief touch of a more epic, symphonic sound in some parts of the songs. A requisite epic power metal ballad "Mother Russia" (no, it's not a cover of the Iron Maiden song) is included and gives the CD a classic feel to it. Other standout tracks include "Fear Is The Conscience Of Villains" and the symphonic elements of "The Rules Of Real Life."

There is quite a variety in the vocals and the gang-type vocals add depth and resonance to the lyrics. It's nothing to write home about, but nothing to be embarrassed by either. 

The production is decent although the vocals are buried in the mix a bit; that seems to be an on-going issue I have with metal CDs coming from Eastern Europe and Russia. Eight tracks in a compact 40 minutes makes for a compelling listening experience especially if you dig the power metal scene.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2005 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.