The Chronicles Project is led by keyboardist Malte Rathke. The album “When Darkness Falls” is a concept album or metal opera if you prefer. With many supporting players and vocalists and a grand concept, it does sound and feel like Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Kamelot or Avantasia. I was intrigued because Aeon Zen vocalist Andi Kravljaca was part of this project. He turns in a fine performance.
The concept is as follows: “The immortal soul gatherers Twilight, Nightfall and Sirelius came to Earth to collect the souls of the deceased and deliver them to the sleeping god Isaari. But an ancient pact and the murder of the mortal Mary threaten not only their mission, but also the equilibrium of forces and therefore the existence of mankind.” The first thing I noticed was the use of “Mary” as a character. Her name and murder (done as dialogue) at the end of “The Last Embrace” are a tad too close to “Operation: Mindcrime.” Granted the plot to this album is much grander to say the least.
I’ll let the reader form their own opinion on the overall execution of the story. Musically, it is a very rich sounding album which combines elements of prog metal, power metal and mostly symphonic metal. All of the musicians are top notch and all of the vocalists turn in excellent performances. The flow of the music works very well with the songs and the story.
To be honest, I have grown weary of all of the concept albums that are being released. Too often a band or an artist sacrifice the music in order to tell their story. Since each song can exist on its own, it’s clear that Rathke did focus on making the songs strong MUSICALLY apart from any story or concept. Many other bands could certainly learn from this.
Also, as I said, there are many performers but rather than sound like a disjointed mess, each work very well with each other and it’s never distracting. Many albums sound more like a high school musical with tons of singers and performers who have no idea how to work within the scope of the project. Malte Rathke has done well to keep things clear and focused.
Downsides? There are spoken interludes which might work with the story, but they are really only interesting once through. After that, I would skip them because I prefer to get right to actual music than listen to a conversation that I’ve already heard. Again, these interludes are important to the story so I understand why they are there. I am glad they are separate tracks!
I was prepared for a very cheesy album from The Chronicles Project, so it was a pleasant surprise that it really isn’t cheesy. Whether or not you like the story probably won’t impact your enjoyment of the music and melody through out “When Darkness Falls.” If you love concept albums, this is definitely one you should check out.
1. Prologue: Our Souls
3. Void Of The Damned
4. The Last Embrace
5. A Dangerous Journey
6. Into Infinity
7. Interlude I: The Confession
8. When Darkness Falls
10. My Revolution
11. Interlude II: Release Me
12. The Dark Symphony
13. Promised Lands
14. Until You’re Mine
15. Conclusion: Still Alive
16. Chronicles Of A Strange Mind