Spelled Moon, Forsaken Spells
1.7.2013 ALEX SHALENKO – For all the fury and bombast that accompanies many modern power metal bands, it is easy to forget that the heart of the genre is melody. Thankfully, California’s Spelled Moon is here to remind us how good the style can be with just the right application of melodic touches, soaring vocals, and healthy dose of hard rock sensibility. On Forsaken Spells, the band presents a trio of songs that harken to the era of long hair, guitar heroics, and Godzilla-sized hooks bound to have the listener come back for more.
Boasting current and former members of Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force, The Scorpions, Dokken, and even Mahogany Rush, Spelled Moon’s music dwells in the territory between accessible hard rock and classic power metal, not too far away from the likes of Hammerfall, or perhaps less over-the-top Rhapsody of Fire. Vocalist Andy Rooney has a clear voice that shifts effortlessly from Sunset Strip balladry of “Hidden in the Wind” to operatic glass-shattering notes on “A War of Shadows,” knowing when to rein in his range, and when to let loose. Rooney’s guitar playing is similarly classy, intricate and technical when necessary, but not overly indulgent in a way of many neoclassical guitarists, combining well with the veteran rhythm section of Patrick Johansson and Ralph Rieckermann along with the smartly-infused keyboards of journeyman Claudio Pesavento.
Whatever Rooney had to do to assemble this all-star lineup had clearly worked, as Forsaken Spells has chemistry that many bands strive for decades to create. While the decision to open the EP with the ballad “Hidden in the Wind” is a curious one, it is not without merit as that song is by far the most easily accessible of the three by the virtue of being relatively straightforward. “Soul Mates” is another slow track, and while its emotive wailing is quite beautiful, it maintains an underlying current of heavier riffing. It all comes together on “A War of Shadows,” a seven-plus minute mini-epic sure to please any fans of power metal with its mood changes, impeccable soloing, and righteous double-bass sections.
Forsaken Spells is an intriguing and highly promising release, as well as a great teaser for Spelled Moon’s next full-length album. The only downsides of the EP are its brevity, and the fact that two out of three songs are ballads, which may put off some listeners expecting faster material. Even then, there is little to fault with songwriting, performances, or the overall approach taken by Spelled Moon. The band shows enough promise here to whet anticipation for their next full-length album, which will hopefully address these concerns and produce a monumental melodic metal release.