Saturday, 29 June 2013

Days of Yore - The Mad God's Wage (1997) | 93%

A bright jewel out of Québec's metal mines

I'm ashamed to say that I discovered this band due to a Danish friend who showed them to me. No one can always be a prophet in his country, eh ? I was really surprised by the quality of this album as I'm not really a fan of the Québécois power metal scene even though bands like Forgotten Realm or Icewind are quality but it's a bit too cheesy for my taste. Released in 1997, an era not well known for its power metal, especially this side of the Atlantic, The Mad God's Wage is a really and rich powerful album with a lot of nuances.

For some reasons, I thought of a mix of Rhapsody and Virgin Steele to describe Days of Yore's only full length album. They have the bombastic approach of the Italian LARPers and the intelligent and conceptual side of Defeis' seminal band. The album has 18 songs and it's a bit under an hour but there's seven songs under two minutes. These interludes are all pretty good and interesting, nevertheless, the album would had been stronger without that much clutter. An album like Symphony X's masterpiece V has a much stronger sense of progression and use a similar concept. Sometimes the short songs could just be integrated into the ''real'' ones such as the pretty useless ''Essence of God'' and its 36 seconds.  Despite my criticism on the format of the album, it's still a very good album and a pretty worthy example of epic power metal done well.

An unique quality of the album is the vocals, Jérôme Parent's delivery is high pitched and pretty powerful. While he could be more diverse, he's still enjoyable albeit somewhat tiring. He's an acquired taste but I don't hink most fans of power metal will have a problem with him. The vocals are pretty much non stop and aggressive when they're present, there's a certain sense of urgency to them. The vocal melodies are simply superb such as the ones in ''The Visage of Doom''. Unfortunately, he apparently refused to sign the contract the band got from Metal Blade and their last demo was released with the vocals of Sylvain Giguère, one of the guitarists. I'm not very knowledgeful about the scene back then but I can hypothetically say that this kind of music didn't have a lot of support, not like the situation is any better today. 

Both the lyrical themes and the atmosphere of the album are well presented and epic as fuck. Never bordering the cheesy kingdom of europower with their inane lyrics that would make J.R.R Tolkien lose his shit. The songwriting is shiny thoughout the course of the album, it's speedy and full of technical but feelsy solos such as in ''Imperilled Kingdom''.  The duel guitars (brothers Martin and Sylvain Giguère) are excellent, garnishing the music with awesome leads that are never superfluous and are always justifying the need for instrumental interludes. The bass is quite audible playing tasty licks and is a good counterpart to the guitars. The orchestrations are great and totally professional and can outclass the likes of Michael Romeo, it doesn't feel cheap and it's full of refinement. The production for a first album of a band outside of a vast scene is pretty much perfect, the guitars, the bass, the keyboards and the drums are all rightfully placed and nothing is overshadowing anothing. Melding fast paced power metal and deep and luscious neoclassical, the band succeeds at creating an epic aura of magnificence demonstrated by the magnum opus of the album, the six minutes ''Clash at Dawn''. Combining heavy solid riffs with a true sense of melody and sophistication is what Days of Yore were doing, not unlike other Canadian power bands like False Witness, they have the honesty to stay heavy even though they're integrating progressive and symphonic influences. Definitely an influence of the underrated American power metal scene. 

Saying this album is underrated is an understatement, the musicality is impressive and the songwriting is top notch. Listen to this album, my friends. A true shame it was their sole full length release, it's yet another case of a band that deserved a better career.

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