Thirteen years is a very long time between albums, but that’s exactly how long Spanish progressive power metallers Arwen have taken to follow-up 2004’s well received, Illusions.
So what the fuck have they been doing with their time, we hear you cry? Well, performing with the likes of Jeff Scott Soto for starters, and, if The Soul’s Sentence, is anything to go by, also honing their craft!
Surprisingly aggressive, supremely progressive, highly melodic and endlessly inventive, Arwen’s third album is a very welcome, end of the year, surprise. Ironically, opening track “Hollow Days” is the least interesting and ‘safest’ track on the album with its typical power metal bombast (just about saved by moments of satisfying crunch) offering little to differentiate Arwen from the pack.
Thankfully, the Middle-Eastern melee of “Torn From Home” ups the hostility as Arwen pepper their work with metalcore influences and things become infinitely more interesting. “Us Or Them” and “Beyond Pain” continue this sense of overriding malice as Arwen channel Dream Theater at their heaviest (circa Train Of Thought and Octavarium respectively) with their balance of audacious technicality and groove merging incredibly well.
Whatever Arwen were doing over the past thirteen years has certainly paid off, with the band embracing a myriad of styles which include (but aren’t limited to) power metal, progressive metal, groove metal, metalcore, alt metal and jazz.
As already indicated, Arwen’s The Soul’s Sentence is a refreshing release to encounter right at the end of the year and could very well be the album we all wish Dream Theater would go out and make! 7/10