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Dead Of Night: In Search Of Ancient Magic

Parting with their singer not long after their debut album, The Dead Shall Rise, UK symphonic metal outfit Dead Of Night quickly set about finding a replacement and with the newfound talents of Briony Featon in place, immediately threw themselves in re-recording that first offering. At the time that may have seemed like a treading water move and yet with the follow up, In Search Of Ancient Magic, also now in the bag, it feels more like a masterstroke; the band's new chanteuse giving the sort of performance that immediately catches the ear and the imagination for all the right reasons. Cleverly, this is a young lady who's been allowed to find her feet in her new surrounds before really being let loose. Just listen to the multi-part vocals on "If I Would Be King" for proof. However she isn't alone in turning in top notch performances, guitarist Dan Roberts and bassist Jason Peacock proving their worth through a keen mix of strident riffs and pinpoint fret forays, as the band's mainman Carl Eden gives a keyboard masterclass.

As with their debut, what makes Dead Of Night pleasingly different from the plethora of bands attempting to squeeze some new ideas out of this well flogged genre is their want to veer into slightly neo-prog territory. The tone and bustling nature of the guitar work and the way it combines with the bombastic keyboards, allowing what DoN do, to become a variation on a theme, rather than a worn down retread.

The whole album would appear to be a loosely based conceptual piece based round doing the best you can, making your mark and leaving a legacy. Wrapped in bold themes and mystical lyrics, the music and words mesh perfectly, although the short spoken sections near the album's beginning and end, where an uncredited voice provides a decidedly Gandalf like narration which talks of magic and magicians, does feel a little isolated. The hope that this aspect will be revisited across the album through more spoken, or possibly theatrical moments, never realised.

That is a minor gripe, however, when placed alongside the bristling intent of "Across The East Riding", which is as grand as its name suggests, or the full on symphonic Kamelot gallop of "One Night Holy". Add in the more melodically inclined title track, or dramatic whip and chase of "Child Of Wolves" and the impact runs long and lasting. Still, even with all these undoubted highlights, it isn't quite plain sailing all the way, the synth intro and keyboard lines in "Michael Farady", while fitting the song's theme well, frustrate through their Donkey Kong like bleep and bloop and detract from one of the album's best riffs in the process. While the synth-voice samples that kick "The Might Of The Deep" into play feel a little at odds with the whistles, strings and pomp of what follows. However, with these being the only real faults on what is an impressive album, the selling points vastly outweigh the stumbling blocks.

Mainland Europe has long been the bastion of all things symphonic metal. However with their second album proper, Dead Of Night have proved that a British band, while still sounding reasonably individual, can compete with the more established acts on an almost level playing field. In itself that is a feat which none before them have achieved and for Dead Of Night, it's still early days!

Track Listing
1. One Night Holy
2. In Search of Ancient Magic
3. I Will Go Down to the Sea
4. Child of Wolves
5. Hiraeth
6. Michael Faraday
7. If I Would be King
8. The Old Straight Track
9. The Might of the Deep
10. Across the East Riding
11. The Other Side of the Rain

Added: March 18th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Dead Of Night online
Hits: 1914
Language: english

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