If you’ve ever thought that symphonic power metal was entirely ludicrous, you were right. And that’s why it’s good. On the evidence of new album Heroes Of Mighty Magic, Swedish newcomers Twilight Force seem hell-bent on proving that the genre has the potential to be much, more preposterous: it’s an explosive, cinematic and remorselessly extravagant journey into the band’s own expansive fantasy world, replete with lavish orchestration and some of the most nerd-friendly, conceptual artwork we’ve ever seen. Whether you like this kind of metal or not, you have to give them credit for putting the effort in, so we called up keyboardist Blackwald to see what is actually going on.
Ladies and gentlemen, we give you ‘adventure metal’…
Tell us about adventure metal… have you guys actually lost your minds?
“Ha ha! Well, not exactly. On the first album, we had a very clear image of what we wanted to do, we wanted to recreate the late ‘90s, early 2000s power metal, just that classic sound, the first Rhapsody albums and stuff like that. So we had a clear vision and I don’t know if we managed to do it, but we definitely had a good time. This time, we wanted to expand on what we wanted to create for ourselves. We wanted to maintain all the positivity and the happiness and melodies, but also to expand on that universe and on the orchestrations, so it was more like the stuff we love ourselves – more like Hollywood soundtracks! It’s been a natural evolution in the same direction, we just took a bigger step forward.”
The album comes with artwork that screams a lifelong love of Dungeons & Dragons and role-playing fantasy… are you massive fans of that stuff yourselves?
“Of course, yeah! It’s a mish-mash of all our previous pastimes. We grew up with all the D&D computer games and the books, and Lord Of The Rings too, of course. So it all just came together and it was a brilliant opportunity. It was also a really easy, natural way to put the music into a visual context and to build the world around it. That synergy of different elements felt like a natural way to do it. The album title, Heroes Of Mighty Magic, obviously refers to the videogame Heroes Of Might And Magic, so it’s a tribute to that, because we loved that so much and it goes hand in hand with our music. The fantasy elements connect really well with the kind of music we want to create. I hope it feels natural for the listener too, and not just for us! Ha ha!”
Power metal and symphonic metal are already pretty over-the-top, but you seem to have pushed that even further on this album. It’s properly bonkers and sounds like it took a lot of work to put it together…
“Yeah, let me just count my grey hairs here… ha ha! We took a lot of time and it took a lot of effort. The work for this album started even before the first album came out. It’s been back and forth for the last three years and we’ve been pretty swamped. For the last six months it was pretty much 24⁄7, working with everything from the artwork concepts and the lyrics and the map, and of course the music. The complexity and the orchestrations on this album are so much more intense, and there are a thousand layers of things happening. It may take a few listens, but you’ll hear more details as you go along.”
After all that effort, are you happy with the results?
“Oh, definitely. I get the same feeling when I listen to the album as I did when I heard Blind Guardian’s Nightfall In Middle Earth the first time. For me that was such an amazing album, but it had to grow on me. The first few times I didn’t understand it, there was so much happening. But after a few listens it grew on me and I discovered all these little details in the keyboard arrangements, and it became one of my favourite albums. So making something on that scale has been a challenge, but it’s a good challenge. I can’t wait to start working on the third album.”
Will you continue writing music that exists within the world that you’ve revealed on Heroes Of Mighty Magic?
“Yeah, we will continue in that same vein. This is just a dragon hatchling! We will probably expand on everything in all kinds of ways. It could be a game, it could be anything. It all goes hand in hand with the music. It’s the soundtrack to a movie that we don’t have yet, ha ha!
- Blind Guardian Vs Doctor Who
- Power Metal: The Genre That Refuses To Die!
- Power Metal: Herman Li's Essential Picks
- The 10 albums that changed my life, by Sabaton's Joakim Brodén
Would you leap at the chance of turning your stories into a movie?
“Of course, if someone else is paying? Definitely, ha ha! We have other things in the pipeline that we hope we’ll be able to pull off. Maybe not a Lord Of The Rings trilogy, but cool stuff. It’s all about time and money to make things happen, but we’ve only been around officially for a couple of years so we can just take stuff further and higher from here. We’re really aiming for that.”
Do your family and friends think you’re a little bit crazy?
“I’ve probably been the same kind of crazy all my life. But yes, when you dress up in armour and go on stage, it’s not particularly normal behaviour. But for us it’s just natural. It has to be like that if we’re going to he able to portray the fantasy world and the imagery that we want to portray, so it’s really important. Everything has to be over-the-top… and then a bit further.”
Doesn’t wearing armour onstage make playing a lot more difficult?
“We try to adapt the armour so we can play. It’s really hot, but that’s the only problem. But my armour saved my life once! We played on the Sabaton cruise two years ago and our drummer’s china cymbal stand tipped over because it was pretty stormy. It would’ve decapitated me if I hadn’t had my armour on. That was a close one, ha ha!”
Do you have big ambitions for the live show as well?
“Yeah, of course, but again it goes back to time and money and how much we can spend on it. We do have some pretty funny tricks up our wizard’s sleeves, so to speak. If we have time and if we get to headline in the future, the possibilities are endless, really. We only need that blasted dragon somehow, ha ha! But we’ll bring out the weapons and the fireworks and we’ll keep trying to improve on everything. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Heroes Of Mighty Magic is out now, via Nuclear Blast. Twilight Force play London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire on October 15.