ReviewsAfterTime - Arcane Horizons (Self-Released)

AfterTime – Arcane Horizons (Self-Released)

While many think of Europe as being the hotbed of symphonic metal, there have been more rumblings from quality acts on this side of the Atlantic in more recent years. One such act is that of Minnesota’s AfterTime, who have returned after their first full-length in 2020’s The Farthest Shore with more high quality symphonic metal that US fans can champion as much as the European acts.

AfterTime have proven themselves to be nothing if not ambitious, but its more about their subtlety than simply trying to out-symph all of the biggest names. AfterTime design some exciting orchestrations and successfully merge it with some strong riffing and soaring, charismatic vocals from Sarah Wolf. Much like The Farthest Shore, there’s a mood and a purpose to the tracks. “Armored Heart” wields some folkish elements to the bombast, fine-tuning the cinematic elements and without having to resort to cranking the velocity to grab your ear. Though when they do decide to do exactly that in “Amongst the Trees,” there’s a deliberate weaving of bouts of frantic riffing and drums that swirl and soar, as they do in “Goddess of Dark Horizons” as well to even more grand and epic sensations.

Speaking of epic, AfterTime does give into their indulgences once with the 11-minute mammoth “A Prophecy of Realms” and doesn’t disappoint. There’s a grandiose feeling to the scoring of it, nicely balancing the feeling of a climax of a film while still giving it moments of shining and visceral heaviness alongside excellent build-ups of mood. It’s a thrilling track that serves as a nice centerpiece that brings forward all of the elements that they have built up over the album without becoming a bloated piece that overstays its welcome.

Arcane Horizons is a powerful symphonic metal album that strikes a deadly balance between its orchestrations and metallic spirit. Sarah Wolf’s vocals consistently impress with their power and beauty, yet the band doesn’t rely on them as their sole offering (like some acts tend to do). Instead, they craft eloquent pieces that, while sticking to many of the genre’s conventions, allow them to stand out due to the strength of their compositions and sheer fun factor.

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