Terra Atlantica – Beyond the Borders (Pride & Joy Music)Wednesday, 28th September 2022
Transport yourselves back to 1848 – the British Empire defeated, the Prussian dynasty in power across Europe, a perfect time for the younger generation to fight this oppression guided by a magical stone that should chart their course for Atlantica. Alas, all is not well, these people being followed and so the conceptual story for Beyond the Borders goes, across land and sea on this third full-length for Terra Atlantica. Taking place two decades after the previous record Age of Steam, there’s been one lineup change in the time between records as lead guitarist David Wieczorek joins the fold – but the spirit of theatrical, adventurous power metal stands strong once again throughout these eleven tracks.
Although guitarist Tristian Harders handles the multitude of main vocals in his natural playful, melodic register (think Chris Bay of Freedom Call for comparison’s sake), guest support from Anders Sköld of Veonity, Alex Hunzinger (ex-Aeternitas), Kathi Stahl, and Joan Pabón of Tragedian allows the storyline to expand in that cinematic, epic, theatrical scope – plus provide proper choir-support when key lines/choruses need that extra punch. The diversity musically track to track allows the listener to feel enveloped in the proceedings – the orchestral/acoustic guitar parts giving off a Latin touch to specific parts of “Sun of Pontevedra” before the engaging power riffs, twin guitar harmony lines, and speedy tempo pounding/transitions take hold while the folk-ish flute/guitar interplay on the subsequent “Guns and Drums” instrumental interlude contains that old Wild West/classical aural push/pull cleansing for the second half of the record. Excelling just as much at the prototypical Teutonic-oriented power-oriented “The Scarlet Banners” as they do a poignant, emotional ballad such as “Just One Look”, the attention to those smaller details from different voices, harmonies, piano use, and heightening tension in the orchestral/keyboard parts keep listeners returning for multiple playbacks – positive signs of an impactful record. Favorite songs change by the day – the playful, swinging musical nature to “Pirate Bay” always seems to crack a proper smile to this scribe, while those who love an epic arrangement chock full of pomp, circumstance, attack, and neoclassical/power bravado will dig the 8:43 “The Great Escape”.
Adding that professional mixing/mastering expertise that Jacob Hansen always brings to the table, Terra Atlantica aligns well with followers into Freedom Call, Rhapsody, Orden Ogan, and Avantasia. Beyond the Borders is a sharp, enthusiastic record that showcases all the wide array of feelings, emotions, dynamics, and storytelling properties that make power metal such a wonderful journey when done this well.