Dawn of Enlightenment Armory - The Dawn Of Enlightenment (independent) 2007

1. "The Tempest" [instrumental] (1:57)
2. "Faith In Steel" (5:55)
3. "Riding The Cosmic Winds" (7:34)
4. "Forever Triumphant" (5:15)
5. "Heart Of Dreams" (7:55)
6. "Warrior Forlorn" (5:09)
7. "Forged In Dragon Flames" [instrumental] (4:22)
8. "The Eyes Of Time" (6:39)
9. "Mystic Star" (5:29)
10. "The Dawn Of Enlightenment" (13:48)
11. "Flight Of Icarus" (3:52)
12. "Dr. Wily" [instrumental] (1:55)

OK, I have to admit that I had this CD for a long, long time before I decided to finally write something about it. The fact is, I was totally unfamiliar with this band upon receiving it in the mail. While I love heavy metal, I've grown a bit weary of all these wanky, overly-technical, keyboard drenched, happy, progressive bands singing tales of dungeons and dragons and labeling themselves "metal". On my first spin of this CD, I worried that Armory would be one of those band. Indeed the CD does open up with a lush sounding keyboard instrumental title "The Tempest," that made me cringe at first. "Oh man, not another one." With song titles like "Warrior Forlorn" and "Forged in Dragon Flames", I already didn't have my hopes up too high. However, with "Faith in Steel" my worry disappeared as the band galloped along in a true heavy metal fashion. Yes, now this is more like it! Fist in the air, head banging, fist pumping heavy metal! Fans of Hammerfall, Steel Attack, early Nocturnal Rites, etc. will rejoice in yet another band to add to their ranks. "Riding The Cosmic Winds" continues with the real metal and is one of the strongest tracks on the disc. This song offers a dark, heavy guitar tone and some wicked drum work. "Forever Triumphant" is a keyboard-laced power ballad with one of those fun, anthemic, sing-along chorus and some classic metal soloing from guitarist Chad Fisher. Some metal fans may frown upon the "ballad" but the best bands have always done ballads. Judas Priest have written some of the greatest ballads ever and they are the very definition of heavy metal, in my opinion. Armory's ballad is not different, although I wouldn't put it on the same level as "Beyond the Realms of Death" or "Before the Dawn". "Forged in Dragon Flames" is a progressive instrumental, but not overblown or out of place on this album. It wasn't until the album title track that began to lose interest slightly. The nearly fourteen minute track is quite lengthy and a bit overblown, although not terribly so. Ahhhh, but up next we have what any true heavy metal band must have in this time and age, an Iron Maiden cover! Yes, and a fine cover at that. Armory take some liberties with "Flight of Icarus", but it works well for them. Lastly is a song that I suppose is a bit of a joke. I had to do some research to figure out what this cover was. apparently it is a a cover of a Nintendo video game called MegaMan. OK, not being a gammer myself, I had no idea. Cool song though.

"The Dawn Of Enlightenment was originally released in 2004. This new version was completely re-recorded. Not having heard the original version it's hard for me to say if it's better or worse than the original. I'll just have to assume it's better with the growth of the band and better recording techniques.

Empyrean Realms Armory - Empyrean Realms (Metavania) 2013

1. Eternal Mind (5:25)
2. Dreamstate (5:21)
3. Beyond the Horizon (6:52)
4. Reflection Divine (5:29)
5. Horologium (4:00)
6. Elements of Creation (4:55)
7. Inner Sanctum (4:56)
8. Fate Seeker (6:21)
9. Quest for the Fleece (7:00)

"Empyrean Realms" is the second full-length album by US power metal act Armory and comes nearly six years after their last album. With that many years to hone and perfect their sound, one might expect their sound to have improved by leaps and bounds, and that is indeed the case. 

Armory play melodic power metal, although being an American band their style sits more comfortably with the European power metal bands than with the more straight-forward American power metal acts such as Metal Church. Though their sound echoes the European power metal bands, there are also some classic heavy metal influences as well as some overtly progressive elements, particularly in some of the instrumental sections. Also, unlike some power metal bands who are all about speed, that is not the case with Armory. Rather it's about solid musicianship and memorable songwriting. Of course what would a power metal band be without a powerhouse vocalist? Adam Kurland can scream and sing with the best of them. He sings with a clear mid-range style and adds in enough charisma, emotion and aggression to keep things interesting. 

It's surprising that a band this good is still an underground, completely independent band. Perhaps that is not a bad thing though. There is no one forcing them to do things they might now want to do, such as add a sappy ballad or something. Seriously though, Armory are one of those bands that you might expect to see on SPV or Nuclear Blast. "Empyrean Realms" is a true power metal gem.

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