So I took a look at that cover artwork and expected something like Tyr or Ensiferum. I read that Armored Dawn are from Brazil, so armed with that extra info changed my guess to folk-tinged metal like fellow South Americans Skiltron – or maybe that other South American trait of full-on Prog/Power Metal like compatriots Angra? I then played it and Armored Dawn actually turned out to be purveyors of power-driven melodic groove metal…with a Viking theme. You never can tell – But that’s just one of the great things about Metal – full of surprises!

Taking their cue from acts like Scar Symmetry, Sonic Syndicate, In Flames or Soilwork (though Armored Dawn are clean sung throughout) is just part of their story. Within the bands double-kick fueled speedier moments there are elements of the recent Orden Ogan offering, combined with hints of Susperia (the intro to ‘Men Of Odin’ and the verse/bridge to ‘Chance to Live Again’ for instance) and as with the opening track, some touches of Into Eternity. It’s all given a personal twist, so although Armored Dawn are clearly influenced by many European acts, they have taken the time to put their own stamp on their sound.

This is the bands second full-length outing, and the band have previously been touted as Power Metal, which with this release is possibly a little misleading. The Power is plenty in evidence, and though they mix the tempos and moods of the tracks nicely and effortlessly, that power always shines through, driving the tracks on with energetic, tight drums and bass and riff-heavy guitars. The vocals sit astride all this with a mid-range confidence that never sound strained, mixed into the music to give the whole sound an epic smoothness. There’s usually a memorable chorus to bond with and touches of epic orchestration and choirs, used sparingly for maximum effect on songs like ‘Eyes Behind The Crow’, gives the album an even more rounded and mature feel.

So all in all Armored Dawn’s mix of Viking imagery and lyricism, on a Groove Metal base, peppered with Power Metal moments and a nice dash of technical speed has come together to really give them their own identity. If I’m honest, when they drift further into the Modern Groove Metal it’s not really my thing (just personal taste), but the fact that it’s done so well and blended so effortlessly with the more Power side of their Metal totally held my attention throughout. There’s some great riffs on offer here and with the backing of the mighty AFM, this album holds much for any Metal fan to latch onto, this release is just the early stages of an epic journey for Armored Dawn.

(7.5/10 Andy Barker)