If you take anything from the new album by Spanish outfit Dark Moor, it’s that they really believe in the existence of extraterrestrials. Flying at improbable speeds and covered in bright flashing lights, their latest flying saucer shaped release, Project X (Scarlet) will capture you in its tractor beam and transport you to an alternate dimension where cheesy ’70s and ’80s influenced Power/Prog rules the galaxy from its bejewelled, golden intergalactic space throne.
After the conclusion of short intro ‘November 3023’, the first proper track, ‘Abduction’ takes over, and although containing nothing new or hugely remarkable (and sounding a little too much like Within Temptation‘s ‘Stand My Ground’ for a while), is still a nice, pacey little number with just the right amount of keyboard and choral backing, while singer Alfred Romero‘s vocals are clear and earnest in their delivery. The opening piano strains of ‘Beyond the Stars’ may get people of a certain age picturing a denim clad Bill Bixby walking alongside a lonely highway, wearing a brown jacket with a backpack slung over his shoulder, trying to control the raging spirit which dwells within him. The track soon changes up a gear though, and with the help of some female backing vocals, quickly turns into a space age version of Grease, complete with a stupidly infectious ‘Greased Lightning’ chorus.
With mentions of Area 51 and Men in Black, ‘Conspiracy Revealed’ opens with a riff reminiscent of Adam Khachaturian‘s ‘Sabre Dance’ and you can almost picture Mulder and Scully putting their differences with the Cigarette Smoking Man aside for five minutes while they all dance their little socks off with big grins and hand jives. Things slow down for a while during ‘I Want to Believe’ as Mulder and Scully dance together slowly, staring into each others eyes, while The Lone Gunmen hold lighters in the air and The Cigarette Smoking Man trudges off into the darkness, alone and muttering threats about abductions and alien implants.
‘Bon Voyage!’ has another movie musical vibe, part Grease and part Rocky Horror Picture Show with a hand-clap section (which bizarrely works), Queen style backing vocals and the most Brian May of all guitar solos, with even a couple of jaunty “WOOOs!” thrown in for good measure, meanwhile probably the heaviest track on the record, ‘Imperial Earth’, features a beefy riff, powerful vocals, big drums and a couple of spoken voice sections reminiscent of those in ‘Flash’ by Queen when dialogue from the film occasionally comes crashing in. It would come as no surprise to absolutely anyone if ‘Imperial Earth’ was to suddenly erupt with cries of “dispatch war rocket Ajax to bring back his body!”
Blatantly stealing that tune from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, penultimate track ‘Gabriel’ is steady but unspectacular, and really only memorable for that bit of musical pilfery. Things pick up for the grand finale, though, and the album ends with ‘There’s Something In The Skies’, a wonderfully overblown eight minute Prog sandwich, literally dripping with cheese and melodrama.
A more streamlined affair than a lot of Dark Moor’s previous work, some fans may be disappointed with how the band have dialled back the orchestral and female vocal side of things, but the record contains enough quality to keep most people happy and maybe even bring a few new fans into the fold because of it.