I've been an obsessed hard rock & heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.
9 tracks, 49:19
Genre: Melodic/Symphonic Power Metal
Well, this was an interesting surprise. Ty Morn is a symphonic power metal project spearheaded by U.K.-based guitarist, bassist, and programmer Aron Biale. The debut Ty Morn album, Istor, was self-released in March of 2019.
I have to admit that I'm out of the loop when it comes to the fantasy/power metal genre nowadays, so when I first received this album for a review, I was puzzled by the band's mysterious name and odd album title. I wondered if "Ty Morn" and "Istor" were Game of Thrones characters, Tolkien references, or even obscure creatures from Dungeons & Dragons? Even after some Google searching of both terms, I still have no idea what either one means, though it did occur to me later that "Ty Morn" sounds like a person's name, a la "Jethro Tull" or "Monty Python," so I wonder how many people ask Aron, "Which one of you is Ty?"
But, seriously . . . Ty Morn claims that their music "comes from a love for golden age metal and classic rock," and the nine tracks on Istor definitely back up that claim. This is some impressively bombastic stuff that will surely please fans of slick, epic European-style power metal like Blind Guardian, Rhapsody of Fire, Edguy, and Primal Fear.
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"Reign of the Hunter"
It must be noted that while Aron Biale is based in London, Ty Morn is actually an international effort. Nearly a dozen guest musicians contribute to Istor, including Brazilian vocalist Raphael Gazal (who has also recorded with Leviathan, Bulletback, and Moonlight Prophecy), and guitarist Rafael Sequera, a member of the Venezuelan progressive rock band Echoes. Organist Eugene Moiseienko hails from the Ukraine, where he heads up the instrumental prog-rock project Robots Against Entropy. Now that's what I call cooperation between nations! I assume that these guys recorded their parts for Istor separately and the album was assembled by Aron via studio magic, because I imagine it would have been tough to get them all together in the same place at the same time.
Once you press "play," Istor wastes no time getting to the good stuff, kicking off with the thunderous riffing of the leadoff track, "Reign of the Hunter," leading into "Hey Poseidon," which chugs along at a pleasingly mid-tempo thud.
While a lot of Euro-power metal bands tend to place too much emphasis on keyboards for my liking, Ty Morn remembers that metal is supposed to be all ABOUT the guitars, and places them right up front in nearly every song. In addition to main man Aron and the aforementioned Sequera, five (!) other guitarists are credited on Istor, though it doesn't specify who plays on which song. There's plenty of atmospheric, moody keyboard work throughout the album but it's never intrusive; instead of letting the keys take the lead as so many "symphonic" metal bands are prone to doing, Ty Morn uses them to provide rich, cinematic soundscapes for the guitar shredders to do their thing over.
"Die Where We Stand" and "Fall On Your Sword" are Manowar-style battle hymns that would do the Men of Metal Might proud, while "The Language of Beasts" reminded me of HammerFall at their heaviest. "Kings of Dishonor" has a nice doomy crunch and even features a nice acoustic bit around the three quarter mark before the album gets heavy again with the speedy "Bring Forth the Night."
The epic double-shot of "Harvest of Souls" (my favorite track on the disc) and the album closer "Hunt Leviathan," which builds slowly over its six-plus minute run time into an all out prog-metal shred fiesta, brings Istor to a satisfactory finale. After several spins of this album, all I could say was "Geez, how is this band not signed yet?" If this were the early 2000s, every record label that dealt in power metal would've been fighting each other with sticks trying to seal a deal with them!
Summing It Up
Istor is an impressive piece of work, especially when you consider that it was created and released without any kind of record-label support. Kudos for keeping the D.I.Y. spirit alive, with amazingly pro sound and presentation! These guys are the real deal. If this sounds like it's up your musical alley, you can support 'em by visiting their Bandcamp page, where you can buy a download or (if you're old school like me) an actual CD (what a concept!). I look forward to hearing more from this promising act in the future. Horns up!
© 2019 Keith Abt