ANCIENT BARDS
Power Metal • Italy

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Ancient Bards is a symphonic power metal band from Italy that was formed in 2007. After a 2008 demo they released their debut album, The Alliance of the Kings, in 2010. Their second album, Soulless Child, followed in 2011. The band's albums form a conceptual arc, known as the Black Crystal Sword Saga, written by keyboardist and composer Daniele Mazza.

- biography by adg211288, updated November 2011.
Thanks to adg211288 for the addition

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Soulless ChildSoulless Child
Limb Music 2011
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$7.99 (used)
The Alliance Of The Kings (The Black Crystal Sword Saga - Part 1)The Alliance Of The Kings (The Black Crystal Sword Saga - Part 1)
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Imports 2010
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A New Dawn Ending by Ancient Bards [Music CD]A New Dawn Ending by Ancient Bards [Music CD]
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ANCIENT BARDS Discography

ANCIENT BARDS albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 4.66 | 4 ratings
The Alliance of the Kings
Power Metal 2010
.. Album Cover 4.84 | 6 ratings
Soulless Child
Power Metal 2011
.. Album Cover 4.17 | 3 ratings
A New Dawn Ending
Power Metal 2014

ANCIENT BARDS EPs & splits

.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Prelude to Awakening
Power Metal 2012

ANCIENT BARDS live albums

ANCIENT BARDS demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Trailer of the Black Crystal Sword Saga
Power Metal 2008

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ANCIENT BARDS Reviews

ANCIENT BARDS A New Dawn Ending

Album · 2014 · Power Metal
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adg211288
A New Dawn Ending (2014) is the third full-length album by Italian symphonic power metal act Ancient Bards. It is also the third part of their series of conceptual albums known as The Black Crystal Sword Saga (by keyboardist Daniele Mazza) that began with The Alliance of the Kings (2010). A New Dawn Ending is the final chapter of the first part of the story. It's been three years since the release of the second chapter, Soulless Child (2011), which given the relatively short time between the first two albums was a surprise to me, and makes A New Dawn Ending quite the anticipated release. In that time though Ancient Bards released the two track split Prelude to Awakening with Japanese band Serenity in Murder, contributing the song Across This Life, which reappears on A New Dawn Ending in an updated form. The band's vocalist Sara Squadrani then appeared as one of the cast of Arjen Anthony Lucassen's latest Ayreon metal/rock opera The Theory of Everything (2013). I'm sure that such a high profile guest appearance will have brought and still be bringing about some extra and much deserved interest in Ancient Bards. On a less positive note the band lost one of their guitarists, Fabio Balducci, after the recording of the album and are currently proceeding as a five piece act.

To those who are already familiar with the work of Ancient Bards the direction of the music on A New Dawn Ending will come as no surprise. This is epic symphonic power metal done in true Italian style. Ancient Bards also throw in a few progressive touches to their music as usual, such as a bass solo in A Greater Purpose. Compared to the two previous albums the symphonic elements are grander and more epic than ever, but as if to compensate the power metal elements feel a little restrained, as if a bit of the energy that was demonstrated on the last two albums is missing. The album is still of quite a high quality, definitely above the standards of the genre, delivered with strong musicianship and passion, but I can't shake the feeling that Ancient Bards have made a few stylistic choices that have caused the album to fall short of their own standards, which I consider to be higher than the average for symphonic power metal release. There are of course many quality songs on the album, but it's only really a few of them such as A Greater Purpose or Across This Life that feel up to the standard of what was, in my view, a masterpiece predecessor.

But don't get me wrong because A New Dawn Ending is certainly a great release. It's definitely not everything I had hoped it would be and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little bit disappointed, but there is still a lot more to be positive about than there is to complain about. In fact were this an album by any new act on the scene and not the new release of Ancient Bards there would be nothing to complain about at all. That's double standards right there and I admit it, but that's also what happens when an act produces such high quality music on their earlier works.

There are two epics on the album, namely Showdown and the title track, both of which are worth mentions even though the band did the epic length format better in Hope Dies Last from Soulless Child. Showdown is easily the better of the two though as I don't feel that the title track is the dramatic closing epic of this final chapter of the first part of The Black Crystal Sword Saga that it deserved. Not that I really listen to Ancient Bards' music for the story they tell but it would have been nice to say that they closed this chapter with a real bang.

Ancient Bards have also got Fabio Lione of Rhapsody of Fire (among others) to duet with Sara Squadrani on the track The Last Resort. I (and many others) have always considered Ancient Bards to have plenty in common with Rhapsody of Fire beyond both bands belong to the Italian symphonic power metal scene, so it's definitely interesting to hear the vocalists of both bands team up. While it's not one of the highlights of the album it's definitely a great song and another selling point for the release.

I was really hoping that A New Dawn Ending would prove to be one of those albums that needs a few listens to grow on me. Ancient Bards actually set a precedent for that with me, as at first I thought Soulless Child was weaker than The Alliance of the Kings, only to change my mind after I got to know the album better. That's happened to a point this time around but I still have to say that I consider A New Dawn Ending to be the weakest of the three Ancient Bards albums to date. Still, despite that a 4.5 star rating is appropriate, so it's testament to how great this band is that even their weakest release can obtain such a high score.

89/100

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven: http://metaltube.freeforums.org/ancient-bards-a-new-dawn-ending-t3496.html)

ANCIENT BARDS Soulless Child

Album · 2011 · Power Metal
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Warthur
As big of a Dungeons & Dragons nerd as I am, you'd expect me to be more into Rhapsody of Fire-esque symphonically-inclined power metal bands, but the fact is that I find the output of such bands a little hit or miss, so inclined are they to pile on layer after layer of guitar solos, orchestras and cheese that songwriting and compositional technique rather goes by the wayside.

Imagine my pleasure, then, to stumble across the work of Rhapsody's fellow countrymen Ancient Bards. Sara Squadrani's lead vocals might make some listeners think of Nightwish, but overall what we are looking at is far more in Rhapsody of Fire's court: a high fantasy concept album in which orchestral arrangements are just as significant as what the band themselves are getting up to.

What makes the album for me is the way the band show exceptionally good taste when it comes to the balance between orchestral sections and band-led sections. It's this sense of restraint which, paradoxically, gives their compositions more impact; because they judge so finely when to have the orchestra swell up or when to have the band let rip, when they do let loose it's far more effective than it would have been if they'd kept things cranked up to 11 for the whole running time. It's excellent stuff, and makes me inclined to try and explore the symphonic end of power metal a little more in future.

ANCIENT BARDS Soulless Child

Album · 2011 · Power Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
adg211288
If you’ve ever wondered what Rhapsody of Fire would sound like if they ditched Fabio Lione in favour of a female singer then you need look no further than Italy’s Ancient Bards. The young symphonic power metal crew share many similarities with their longer running countrymen, such as the epic symphonic nature of their power metal that isn’t without its neoclassical touches and a fondness for the multi album concept, but they have a female singer, Sara Squadrani. Of course there are other differences in the sounds of the two bands, but there are enough parallels that I can’t help but draw some sort of comparison between them.

2011’s Soulless Child is the group’s second album, a conceptual piece that continues the story began in the band’s 2010 debut, The Alliance of the Kings. The aforementioned album impressed me greatly last year and I’ve been quite eager for its continuation ever since. What I find here though is a slightly different Ancient Bards. While The Alliance of the Kings was undoubtedly a symphonic power metal album through and through, Soulless Child is a symphonic power metal album crossed with actual symphonic metal. That is to say that metal can be symphonic without actually being pure symphonic metal, something which is rarer than you may think. Here we have symphonic power metal yes, but it also meets the definition of pure symphonic metal in many places. The symphonic keyboards often take a more dominate role, and the classical influences are unmistakeable. These classical influences also manifest as neoclassical guitar leads. This is still best described as a power metal release in my opinion, but symphonic metal wouldn’t be wrong either.

Unlike with many of the female fronted symphonic metal acts however, Sara Squadrani isn’t an operatic vocalist. Her vocals are, for want of a better description, more metal orientated than singers such as Tarja Turunen (ex-Nightwish) or Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation), although she is still very melodic and powerful. It would still be easy to lump Ancient Bards into the same crowd as acts like Nightwish, especially as of this album which does have some qualities that brings to mind Nightwish’s early output, and also some moments, particularly the choirs, where I think of Epica, but ultimately this wouldn’t be fair, as Ancient Bards is worlds apart in the wider scheme of things. They’re a lot heavier for a start, with their extremely fast power metal riffs propelling the music along with Daniele Mazza’s keyboards which gives the music an epic yet intense sound.

At first I wasn’t as fond of Soulless Child as I was of The Alliance of the Kings, but as is often the way of things I’ve grown to appreciate the album as a work of true genius. There is never a power loss throughout the album and every single track (excluding the intro piece Struggle for Life and the interlude Dinanzi Al Flagello) has many claims to being the very beast the album has to offer. The ones that really do it for me though are Gates of Noland and Hope Dies Last, a fourteen minute thirty beast of a track which is easily the band’s crowning achievement to date. Power metal does not get more epic than this and it’s most definitely refreshing on the symphonic metal front for the singer to be belting out the lyrics in true passionate rock style rather than operatic warbling.

On the track Through my Veins the band delivers a duet between Squadrani and guest vocalist Gianmaria Vannoni (Dawn Under Eclipse). Being from a melodic death metal/metalcore act, Vannoni brings harsh vocals into the mix, which at first I did feel were unneeded, but like with the rest of Soulless Child I grew to appreciate the track a whole lot by the time I came to write this review. Soulless Child has in fact quite successfully cracked my top 5 albums of 2011, and I heard a lot of releases from the year now, including more albums I’d grade as masterpieces than any other year I know of. And do you know what the icing on the cake is? The album sounds even more epic when listening to it back to back with The Alliance of the Kings. I can’t wait to hear what this band does next!

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven, scored at 9.8/10)

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