Tales Of The Old is a self-proclaimed dark ambient power metal band hailing from Athens, Greece. Considering the fact a lot of power metal draws its inspiration from epic heroism, this seems to be the most obvious place to form such a band. By far. Interestingly enough though the lyrics are inspired by the medieval era and not, as would be a logical expectation, by Greek history. Anyway, formed back in 2010 by Mike Tzanakis, Tales Of The Old (TOTO) has predominantly been dormant having only released a demo in 2010 and a 2012. Shortly after the release of the EP, called The Passageway From Hell To Earth, all but ceased to exist due to unspeakable difficulties and obstacles the details of which are, rightfully so, not disclosed. Eight years later Mike decided to revive TOTO to fulfill his dream. So he sought collaboration with none less than Bob Katsionis and together they form the backbone of the revived band. With the help of a host of guests musicians and singers, including a choir, the duo converted the fruits of their labor into a 40-minute full length release called The Book of Chaos.
The album kicks off in a true symphonic metal fashion with Heavens in War that has a keyboard riff riddled intro. From the moment the song ignites, when the vocals enter the equation, it sounds a little out of sync to me. It feels as if the rather irregular rhythm opposes the vocal lines, creating confusion, making it hard to stay focused. At least for me. It gets better as the song progresses, but the two never seem to catch up to each other. The next song is, where it comes to that, much better. The four minute long Fallen Angels has an amount of hooks and rhythm and speed changes that wouldn’t be out of place in any prog track, something that, in retrospect, is recurring throughout the album. A good display of what Mike is capable of composition wise, which apparently is considerable. The band, next to Mike and Bob consisting of Spectre on drums and Shadow on bass sounds as if they can easily keep up with the composing whims and fancies as they get plenty of opportunities to showcase their capabilities. Drums, guitars, bass, they all prove to have plenty of potential, which a little polishing could help come into full bloom. Keymaster Mike of course shows his best side as well with his sometimes wildly flailing keyboard riffs. Try Let Your Hatred Be on for size.
Apart from the early incongruity in the opening track, things are pretty solid vocal-wise as well. Not a small feat considering the six different vocalists, both male and female, the use of an entire choir and, to top it off, the duels between vocalists like in The Invocation. There’s quite a wide range of different voices, adding to the already intricate musical landscape that enfolds as The Book of Chaos progresses. Some of the vocals vaguely remind me of Bruce Dickinson, while the title song bares a great operatic duo, The Invocation houses a grunt-ish vocalist and The First Exorcism hosts a full blown black metal entity. Variety galore, just like in the tunes. As chaotic as that may sound and in theory is, the band manages to channel it all into manageable chunks that, combined, form an ever-changing musical landscape that never bores and, for by far the biggest part, keeps you highly entertained.
In conclusion I must say that, after a shaky start, The Book of Chaos turned out to be a nice, adventurous journey through the land of Mike’s musical preferences. With varyingly strong influences from power, symphonic, prog and a few other types of metal I’m comfortable saying that this very much resembles a metal opera, partly due to the use of a choir and the complicated, intricately drawn-out compositions. The wide range of vocal lines, which might not all be to your liking, add to this impression. Admittedly it’s not all perfectly fluent, if anything this diamond in the rough shows there is room for some growth, but the basics are most certainly there and above average, especially considering the fact this is actually the maiden release of this revived band. So despite a few minor points of criticism, quite normal when dealing with a pretty much new band, overall this is a release that more than deserves your time. And a band to keep your eye on for sure. A more than promising start in my opinion!