The closest and most obvious points of reference to British power metal outfit Memories of Old might be Majestica (with whom they share vocalist Tommy Johansson) and Twilight Force. Sprinkle that with elements of old epic Power Quest and the first two Avantasia albums and you’ll find something akin to what the five piece present on their debut full length. The Zeramin Game has a lot going for it, being an adventure both musically as well as thematically. Set in a faraway fantastical land it sweeps both thunderous sea voyages and epic journeys across its seventy minute runtime, clashing in both sea and sky in an ode to all things power metal. Adventurous melodic bombast, flowing with big mid tempo guitar harmonies like Some Day Soon (which sports that almost Sabaton-esque chorus to get the fist pumping going) meets speedy reveling, dressed in double bass beats and swift leads glittering in the Xian seas in highlights Across the Seas, all gleaming in Billy Jeffs’ fantastic guitars and thrilling riffage. There’s plenty of dynamic range and the album tries to cram in as much as it can in its runtime, but it doesn’t always work out.
Sadly, the album is also bogged down by its ambitions as it’s gone by the age old adage of “screw less! More is more!”, being around ten minutes too long for its own good. Obviously, a power metal epic needs an intro - The Zeramin Game has two for whatever godawful reason. The album is also over narrated; an interlude or two, fine, but the guys have slapped the cheesy narration into several tracks, including the first two actual songs, dragging down initial momentum set up by the otherwise epic story set aflame with lightning guitars and epic keyboards. Johansson (here “only” handling the vocals, leaving the axe to his other projects) brings an aura and charm not far from that of Alessio Garavello in his Power Quest-ian prime, delivering a performance heaps better suited to his style, intonation and charm than what we heard on Majestica’s lackluster debut. Yeah I know people really like it, but it just wasn’t that good… great, now I lost track.
Zera’s Shadow and Fowlen’s Revenge - both flashing quality power metal oozing with cheese - are both just a couple of minutes too long, while still delivering the goods in all its glory. The biggest two sinners however are mid album semi ballad Destiny, which just meanders for six minutes without purpose or (seemingly) an end, and fourteen minute title track; the token epic has some massive moments and great leads and harmonies, and some especially sweet keyboard moments from Anthony Thompson, but it just goes on for way too long in trying to tie everything together and it ends up falling short of its purpose. Its flaws notwithstanding The Zeramin Game is still a thoroughly enjoyable album, one made with heaps of love and passion, crammed with fine ass power metal moments; any enthusiast of this metal genre most epic should be able to crank it on at any given time and find it an enjoyable refuge from a reality far less glittering than the one Memories of Old have created.
Standout tracks: The Land of Xia, Across the Seas