Armored Dawn are reasonably new on the metal scene, hailing from Brazil, South America, and only forming in 2014. Barbarians in Black is their second album and first signed to a label. A major label, at that too being on AFM. So who are these relatively unknown metallers who have found themselves already signed up to a major label?
Armored Dawn are a six piece and, despite being from Sao Paulo, play a sort of power metal. To be fair to the band, they only claim to play heavy metal but with lyrics dealing with Viking lore, battles and adventure it is hard not to think of them as a power metal band. They released their debut in 2016 called Power of Warrior. It was well received enough to see the band out on tour with some big names like Megadeth, Rhapsody, Sabaton and weirdly, Marillion, Tarja and Offspring. Growing in popularity, they were quickly snapped up by AFM and here we are.
Armored Dawn consists of Eduardo Parras on vocals with Timo Kaarkoski and Tiago De Moura on guitars. The bassist is Fernando Giovannetti. On drums we have Rodrigo Oliveira and on keyboards is Rafael Agostino. Everyone except for Timo originate from Brazil where Timo moved there at a young age from Finland.
Now I am a big fan of power metal. I also really like Norse mythology and fantastical adventures. I am a huge fan of Blind Guardian, Turisas, Orden Ogan, Rhapsody, Amon Amarth, Dream Troll and the like so the idea of a 6 piece from Brazil bringing an exciting new take on power metal is something I am well up for. With 10 tracks and just under 40 minutes of music I am instantly in love with what I am hearing as album opener, Beware of the Dragon kicks off. A little folk vibe, some keys that build and then a joining drum rhythm and choir sound that has a touch of the fantastical about it. The guitars jump in, the drums speed up – it sounds heavy and interesting. This is going to be awesome and then….deflation.
Rather then get an album full of genre enhancing, or at least genre filling, power metal, we get a collection of radio friendly power rock (if that is a thing). The biggest issue I have with Barbarians in Black is with the vocals. They are fine, in that the singer can sing but they lack any real passion or force to back up the intro music. Your blood starts rushing, the music is driving you into a frenzy and then, Bang!, the singing starts and it is just flat and not in keeping with the intro music. Men of Odin suffers from the same issue with a solid intro starting with a piano and violin before breaking into a simple but catchy riff. Solid musically, it just falls a little flat on the vocal delivery while also becoming repetitive over the song.
Title track Barbarians in Black has some decent drums going on and the vocals are a little more driven but the chorus is forgettable and the riff doesn’t do much for me. Unbreakable has a couple nice guitar lines but I really don’t get much from the chorus. Sail Away is a ballad which works quite well as a rock track. The vocals suit this style a bit more and it is quite an enjoyable song with some decent backing vocals and harmonies. There are a couple of songs where the music and vocals match up quite well making for some simplistic, but decent tracks.
Bloodstone is one such song. The vocals have a little more menace and rhythm to them and work well with the slightly chuggy riff. Chance to Live Again has some great guitar solos, especially in the intro, and the vocals are layered with loads of backing so sound stronger. Survivor has a real groove rhythm to it and the vocal style works quite well with it. The main riff is quite 80’s rock so does come across a little odd though.
Eyes Behind the Crow has an okay riff and some solid guitars. Again there is a ton of backing throughout the track and on the vocals which adds that extra bit of strength they occasionally require. The chorus is quite catchy, something lacking on a lot of the other tracks. It does also have an odd keyboard line in the run up to the chorus that sounds like it belongs elsewhere.
That is pretty much how my listening of Barbarians in Black went sadly. Little moments of hope being quickly dashed behind some very forgettable songs. There are moments of enjoyment, mainly coming in the intros and on a couple of good songs like Sail Away and Survivor. I don’t mean to sound quite so harsh, I guess I just expected to much based on their sudden rise and huge popularity. I think the band could push themselves a little harder, personally. You can tell by the good moments in songs they have talent but this album sounds very comfortable. In a genre that could do with some new blood, Armored Dawn have released an album that I find lacks the pomp, flair and imagination of bands already leading the charge.
You can grab a copy of Barbarians in Black over at AFM’s website. You can also grab it, and more at the Amazon links below. Find out more about Armored Dawn over at their website, on Facebook, on Twitter and on YouTube. Be sure to give them a like or follow while you are there.
Barbarians in Black by Armored Dawn (AFM Records)