FAIRYLAND - 'Score To A New Begining' (Napalm Records)
Although they’ve managed to lumber themselves with probably the worst name in metal, Fairyland are fast proving to be a force worth reckoning with. ‘Score To A New Beginning’ is the French outfit’s third offering, and taken together with its predecessors ‘Of Wars In Osyrhia’ (2003) and ‘Fall Of An Empire’ (2006) completes a trilogy which, through the medium of epic, symphonic metal, tells of events in the fantasy realm of Osyrhia. No matter how turbulent the imaginary kingdom may be, it can’t be any worse than the band itself; Fairyland was pretty much reconfigured after the release of the first album, and then after ‘Fall…’ the second line-up also took a one-way trip to Mordor leaving founder member Philippe Giordana as the last man standing. ‘Score To A New Beginning’ is therefore pretty much a solo album, with Giordana handling keyboards and acoustic guitars and various guests lending a helping hand, including the band’s co-founder and original drummer Willdric Lievin thumping the tubs. Pathosray’s exceptionally talented Marco Sandron and Fabio D’Amore handle vocals and bass respectively, and a whole host of vocalists and guitarists are also able to add their ten pennyworth, including label mates Serenity’s gifted frontman Georg Neuhauser.
Musically, Fairyland sit fairly and squarely in the middle of the symphonic metal scene. There’s the stirring intro (‘Opening Credits’) which gives way to a mighty ocean of pounding drums, massive keyboards and orchestration, huge vocals and superb guitar work. OK, so there’s nothing new there in that description, but the tracks are exhilarating – they almost glow with excitement – passionately written and fervently performed. Songs like the rousing ‘Assault On The Shore’ and the soundscape ‘Rise Of The Giants’ show to a great degree Giordana’s skill as both songwriter and instrumentalist, and together with the slower but none-less-powerful (and eminently likeable) ‘A Soldier’s Letter’ with its massive chorus and singalong structure press all the buttons for me. I’m not sure I can praise this album highly enough: this is as good as it gets, it truly is, and I can see this being in my 2009 Top Ten already.