French power metal fourpiece Darktribe may never have generated much in the way of mainstream airwaves or even within the power metal community itself. Now as they unveil their third full length Voici l’homme they prove what a damn shame that is and show the quality songwriters and musicians they are, while telling gripping tales set to atmospheric, melodic power metal of the highest caliber. It’s a modest but majestic sound, driven by a kind of melancholic epicness highlighted by the sparse use of keyboards that accentuates rather than leads, but still sticks in the foreground when necessary. It’s the guitars from Loïc Manuello which are the leading force, gritty in the riffing alongside brooding bass lines from Bruno Caprani, and fiery but now showboating - always focused - in the lead sections and solos. The keyboards get their solo spots and a couple of lead sections, filling out the massive sound to even greater extent, setting the atmosphere and trading off beautifully with the guitars.
At times it’s got the building blocks of your standard power metal album, in sweeping melodic guitars and catchy harmonies and hooks. And obviously the catchy choruses to back it all up and keep interest going. But it always remains anything but standard. The couple of opening tracks, Prism of Memory and the title track, go at this approach the hardest, unraveling dramatic tension and emotional melodics as well as masterful delivery from vocalist Anthony Agnello. The title track especially boasts a particularly ear pleasing chorus, delivered first in English and then in the band’s native French - a bold move, but it works 100% and makes for an especially captivating six minutes of power metal goodness. In fact, it’s the last two tracks that kind of drop the ball. Seven minute The Hunger Theory is a slowish ballad that never really goes anywhere and closer Symbolic Story fails to get back the momentum and the so captivating dramatic flair that permeates the first 37 minutes of the album, but even these are nitpicks.
All in all the album is such quality crafted power metal that it’s possible to ignore the minor flaws and just roll with how satisfyingly sweet the high points are. There are elements here that reminds of bands like Serenity, Pyramaze and Stratovarius, but taking all that into a sound and feel unique. Even though there is a kind of (very fitting) melancholy and Dragonland like introspective side to the sound the message remains - much following that of the subject matter itself - one of hope, as made clear in uplifting songs like Back in Light and Under the Tree of Life, which bring that needed breath of air and light to give the album a better dynamic. Incredibly well crafted and topped with great performances from the band members, Voici l’homme is a phenomenal album with which to start 2020, filled with lasting power and sure to land more than one best of list at year’s end.
Standout tracks: Prism of Memory, Voici l’homme, A Silent Curse, According to Darkness