Apparently Ominous Glory have been waiting for nigh on ages to release this here debut album of theirs, having composed the majority of it close to twenty years ago. And as we saw as late as October with Sacred Outcry, letting an album stew in its own goodness for a decade or more can only be mean good things. Of course, the comparison might be unfair, because that album is a goddam masterpiece. Released on 1st Jaunary The Elven Dream is more of a mixed bag, definitely not without its share of highlight and saccharine sweet spots, but also not without a few points to its detriment - not least of which is its immense girth. The album clocks in at just over 80 minutes, making it even (slightly) too long for that coveted CD formats Americans still go nuts about. It consists of 15 tracks, several of which reach some length, so even at immediate face value Ominous Glory present a daunting listen, one which is hard to take all in at first listen.
But at the same time the album is also very much a homage to the greats that influenced the band all those years ago. Very European in style, it takes inspiration from the likes of Stratovarius and Nightfall era Blind Guardian in the composition, build and the speedy melodic playing, elements of the Falconer like on the folksy side, while also adding elements from the band’s own side of the Atlantic, like Symphony X. They slap some interesting stuff around for the 80 minute runtime, what with the old school feel and traditional (for the genre) songwriting. There’s some of everything; straightforward melodic bangers, cheesy balladry and big epics hearkening to the days of old. They do however also cram in exactly all of it, leaving very little out and becoming almost a chore to finish in a single sitting. That’s not to say the musicianship isn’t polished to perfection; Alistar Blackmane’s guitars have that perfect sound to encapsulate the fantastic feel, adding the atmospheric touch of Michael Stegossi's keyboards, completing the sound.
Love Knows No Distance is a phenomenal semi ballad, sappy in all the right ways, that tosses in a couple of powerful guest performances from the Teets siblings of Mindmaze. Those being Sarah, whose delicate performance alongside Anthony adds multitudes of dimension, and Jeff, who tosses in a blazing solo to top it all off in glittering splendor. The dynamic between Rek Anthony and Sarah makes the song stand out, as does their other duet, Julianna (Queen of the Dark Star). Tracks like the title track and the band’s namesake are those bigass epics that just sit so sweet, Blackmane’s epic guitar setting the tone for the entire setting. The biggest issue with The Elven Dream is its sheer length. Mid album instrumental Nordania (intended to give a break between the album’s halves) could well have been cut, like some of the other filler material, in so doing highlighting the great songs that otherwise get slightly muddled in the extensive tracklist. With The Elven Dream Ominous Glory present a highly competent debut, dragged down slightly. Fans of old school symphonic power should definitely check it though, and will likely find a gem or two among the eighty long minutes.
Standout tracks: Wayfaring Journeymen, Julianna (Queen of the Dark Star), Love Knows No Distance