The tracklist with running times:
1. Heading For A Victory 11:09
2. Kingdom Come 07:08
3. Tale of the Middle Ages 05:25
4. Sound of Destiny 01:11
5. The Journey Begins 06:33
6. Angels Call 06:34
7. Winter’s Call 05:39
8. Flying Chords 02:18
9. Eternal Love 09:03
10. Farewell 05:44
11. Mourning Star 04:11
12. A New Dawn Awaits 02:57
13. Faraway 10:07
A special musical intermezzo for the demanding listener…
Foreword: Today we have a very special album to review here at Oliverdsw.Wordpress – an album by a single person who has devoted a part of his life to self-produce certain instrumental pieces that all come with a remarkable ‚epicness‘ within them. That’s right: BLACK DAWN’s TALES OF THE MIDDLE AGES is a totally independend album far away form any commercial objectives, only being sold online as you can see here. Furthermore, the ‚mastermind‘ and creator of BLACK DAWN, Henrik Airaksinen, has a lively Youtube-Channel up and running, which you should definitely check out in terms of this review. The channel, which also holds some complete tracks of the album as well as many other self-composed emotional pieces can be found over here. Also, you should definitely read an excerpt of his personal story he has written there – it may offer you some answers to questions that may possibly arise when listening to his music.
So, how can an album as professional sounding like this one be made by a single person only ? Indeed there are no other persons involved, as Henrik Airaksinen stated on both his channel and in a personal mail we received. He just uses his electric piano to compose his songs, add the help of a few plugins and a sequencer and the mastering process – and you got what it takes to create an album like TALES OF THE MIDDLE AGES. However, you should reconsider if this is sounding too simple to you – at last it is always the musician and his capabilities that matter. So we’re glad that we’re discovered this talented musician and his projects, so we can take a closer look on the newest album. Be prepared for a decent track-by-track review then !
Review: Now, what would be more suitable for a self-composed album than a strong and ‚mighty‘ opener ? Right, HEADING FOR A VICTORY is one of these tracks that make you feel a certain pioneering spirit. It starts with some uplifting orchestral tunes that are very well composed, and additionally enriched by nicely fitting Symphonic samples. It could very well be seen as a concurrent to famous film scores like the one to Pirates Of The Carribean, telling an imaginary story of mighty quests and glory. Why is this track lasting over 11 minutes then, you might ask ? Well, it is not like H. Airaksinen didn’t care about a certain amount of variety. There are a bunch of up’s and down’s, alternations and even complete breaks that are greeting a new section of the song. An excellent job !
After that we have KINGDOME COME, an interesting track that is mixed of basically two element categories: the orchestral film-score parts and – for the first time – some guitar riffs and drum work. They blend in smoothly, however they are not offering a huge variety and feel like being a little too quiet – so it’s mainly up to the Symphonic parts to take control in this one. What works out nicely – apart from some single sections where certain elements sound a little too synthetic. With the upcoming TALES OF THE MIDDLE AGES we are once again on a totally different stage – this one could be labelled as a rather folkish song with some decent violin tunes and another nice mixture of Symphonic and ‚Heavy‘ elements. Remarkable: the catchy melody and very well composed song-structure. SOUND OF DESTINY is an epic interlude with a very orchestral feel and a perfectly fitting sound of bells, letting the listener march onward to THE JOURNEY BEGINS. Here we have a piece that is somehow related to the opener, serving loads of epic and onward-marching orchestral tunes that will life up anyones mood. However, there is a darker passages to follow up in this one, creating a mystical mood that emblematizes the dangers whilst being on a distinct journey. At the end the whole thing builds up to another epic climax with some vocal parts.
ANGELS CALL is a rather dramatic piece filled with violin strings and darker Symphonic elements, just as WINTERS CALL – but the second one does indeed contain some Metal parts. They bother offer enough variety, however they might not be the strongest tracks on the album. Up next is FLYING CHORDS, an interlude of 2 minutes, presenting some softer guitar tunes that live from a great feel for rhythm and melody. That’s a hell of a strong instrumental piece, although it is one of the calmest on the album. Great mood, great emotions, great work ! Now, with ETERNAL LOVE possibly follows the strongest piece of the album. It is a soothing ballad full of emotions and a very strong impact. I can best imagine this one as a film score to a drama-orientated animated movie, a short film or even a musical passage of a computer game. It is so nicely composed, offering certain highlights in terms of the melody and mood, that I don’t want to miss this piece ever again. Wow, it’s the first time one tends to get speechless while listening to this album.
FAREWELL is a piece that is held in the same mood, however the emotions are not reaching a similar climax. But the violin parts sound very well in this one, although this piece could have used a bit more ‚power‘ every now and then (and when it comes to the clashing orchestral elements). And, what is this… aright, that’s how we like it. MOURNING STAR is the first and only track on the album which can be labelled as Symphonic Power Metal piece – and, what a hell of a track that is ! The metal-parts are reaching their highest level of quality here, as well as the nicely blended Symphonic parts that make this one sound very epic. And, not to be forgotten, a piece that you might want to contribute some vocals to… at least it delivers the inspiration. A NEW DAWN AWAITS could be labelled as another interlude, though it is 3 minutes long. Warm and soft piano tunes are mixed up with a splendid violin, becoming more and more emotional in the development. Last but not least is FARAWAY, a 10-minute outro piece. It serves well as the overall ending to this musical journey. Splendid !
Conclusion: With TALES OF THE MIDDLE AGES H. Airaksinen managed to get the best out of his somehow restrictive possibilities – remember, there is neither a band standing behind BLACK DAWN nor a recording company. Keeping this in mind, the album even manages to blow the listener away – keeping him very well entertained and reassured that there hasn’t always got to be a huge budget and a highly expensive equipment to create good music. I would have wished for more metal-orientated songs like the firmly strong MOURNING STAR, which would have possibly lead to an even higher rating (in terms of diversification). The final résumé should be clear: TALES OF THE MIDDLE AGES is a totally recommended album for a low price, unfortunately available in a digital format only. At least for now – maybe there will be a physical release in the future ? Thinking about this album in a case with a nice cover artwork and booklet would make it even better. And when it should come to that, just adjust the power and impact of the Metal elements a bit more, and please include 1 or 2 ‚pure‘ Symphonic Metal tracks as bonus songs !