A pair of English power-metal bands — DragonForce and its spawn Power Quest — have both released high-octane discs in recent months, both claim Threshold guitarist Karl Groom in the production credits and both are among the best the genre currently has to offer. While Power Quest includes two ex-members and one current member of DragonForce, Wings of Forever is a far cry from DragonForce's debut, Valley of the Damned.
Power Quest's first album doesn't adhere to traditional power-metal structures and melodies. From the a cappella opening of "Far Away" to the female backing vocals on "Immortal Plains," from the slow-burning epic "Power Quest (Part 1)" to the arena-rock readiness of "Follow Your Heart," Wings of Forever sets itself apart from the glut of current titles by European power-metal bands. Granted, there are a few generic, clichéd tracks, and the album is deeply rooted in fantasy. But Singer Alessio Garavello refuses to indulge in over-the-top deliveries, and his mid-range voice is well-suited to all of this material, as if the eight vocal tracks were written specifically for him. It's even easy to forgive these guys for using canned drums. (According to the band's web site, Power Quest now has a drummer). But the fact that machines keep the beats on this album is hardly even noticeable — especially when Steve Williams' keyboards are the real musical star on Wings of Forever. His captivating playing anchors the album with two instrumentals at the beginning and the end, and his arrangements keep Power Quest grounded while lending the band a distinct and majestic sound while never overpowering dual guitarists Adam Bickers and Sam Totman.
DragonForce's Valley of the Damned is extremely well-crafted power metal that embodies why fans either love the genre or hate it, but Power Quest's Wings of Forever is extremely well-crafted power metal that may actually help new fans embrace the genre.