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Excalion: Once Upon A Time
Excalion - Once Upon A Time Album Art

Excalion: Once Upon A Time

Melodic/Heavy/Power Metal

Formed 23 years ago, Finland's Excalion has had a turbulent musical career. Before releasing a trio of albums between 2005 and 2010, they had personnel changes. Currently, only the drummer and keyboard player remain as original members. They were silent on the studio for seven more years, returning with Dream Alive (2017) and two years later with Emotions. The latter album established a consistent lineup. Now, after a shorter four year absence Excalion returns with their sixth studio album, Once Upon A Time, still with Italy's Scarlet Records. Not to any real surprise in the music industry, but this reviewer, and perhaps others, was not given any details about the album. Is there a lyric or conceptual theme? I have no clue.

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Nevertheless, what the metal fan receives is Excalion's consistent expression of classic European melodic power metal. The song compositions contain various (and expected) elements: heaviness and speed, song melody and harmony from the guitar and vocal arrangements, lush keyboards, catchy refrains, and epic, generally neo-classical guitar solos. Within some songs there's some subtle symphonic notes. Marcus Lang has a strong, even assertive, yet melodic voice.

Yet, the strength of the songs is not so much the individual elements, but how these work together to create interesting and entertaining songs. Depending upon how "technical" you believe progressive metal should be, some listeners may fine prog nuances as well. Fundamentally, the result is that Once Upon A Tim could Excalion's strongest album to date.

Considering the songs, I found all songs as mentioned: creative, intriguing, and entertaining. But to highlight a few. Amuse Me had a dash of symphonic notes wrapped in heaviness and rock groove, and accented by gang choral vocals. Words Cannot Heal, while somewhat fast, turned more upon melodic metal with plenty of groove, a strong bass line (which appears at the start), and a terrific guitar solo.

When a Moment Turns into a Lifetime may be the album's closest thing to a metal anthem. Underneath it's moved by a light piano line, then above by riffs and intermittent heaviness with a steady pace. Eternals is similar in pacing, the piano is there also, yet the song contains two epic guitar solos, on before the half, then later at the end.

I would not call Excalion's music entirely power metal. But for speed and heaviness Resolution and Soulbound come close; yet, the arrangements are not that simple. All in all, Excalion's Once Upon A Time finds the band both consistent and maturing in their craft of melodic power metal with prog nuances. This could be their best album to date. Very recommended.

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The Take Away

Excalion's Once Upon A Time finds the band both consistent and maturing in their craft of melodic power metal with prog nuances. This could be their best album to date. Very recommended.

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