20 years into their existence, Spanish archers shoot off their grandiloquence to find more elegant scheme of things.
Playing by the rules across nine records may result in both brilliance and boredom, although, as this album’s cover art suggests, many alluring things lurk in the moonlit gloom to make for an adventure. Whether Rat Pack is one of them remains unclear – meaning, of course, not the rodents eating away at the power metal clang but a melodious bunch which included Sinatra – yet a croon-moored nocturnal tunefulness reigns all over “Ars Musica” once the symphonic salvo of “First Lance Of Spain” subsides for the tellingly titled “This Is My Way” to kick in.
Alfred Romero’s voice sounding as harmonically rich as Enrik Garcia’s guitar orchestra, there are subtleties in the band’s approach hidden from the public eye before, such as Mario Garcia Gonzalez’s bass throb in “El Ultimo Rey” and “The City Of Peace” that’s elevated to the pop skies. More so, there’s a real orchestra behind some cuts here, albeit the speedy “Living In A Nightmare” sounds as glorious with a deliberately heavy accent as it does with no vocals in the strings-and-brass bonus version; by the same token, the soaring, MOR-styled take on “The Road Again” possesses the same allure as its additional acoustic rendition, a soulful ballad.
The tongue-in-cheek QUEEN-like solos spike it all with a good-natured humor, almost always absent from DARK MOOR’s chosen genre: that’s what makes “Ars Musica” a standout work. Highly enjoyable, it more than lives up to its title.