Formed in the early 2010s, Vandor originated in Sweden with two brothers who had a dream of making metal and sharing it with the world. From there they put a band together and released their debut album In The Land Of Vandor in 2019, jam-packed full of classic power metal laced with fantastical lyrics. Their new follow-up On A Moonlit Night isn’t much different, but is a jump in quality from their debut two years ago- in theory at least.
The short intro “…Darkness Looms” opens things up, transitioning into “Mountains of Avagale”, a power metal shredfest that plays out like DragonForce with Steve Perry on vocals instead of Marc Hudson. Thankfully this isn’t a static dynamic on the rest of the record, as “River Of Life” ups the aggression (and the octave range) and “Endless Sea” is even more epic and medieval than “Avagale” or “River” combined. We get a reprieve with the ballad “Future to Behold”, letting Vide Bjerde’s vocals shine through over a gentler (for the first half) backdrop, then jump right back into the battle anthems with “Fate of Eltoria”. As if the track list thus far wasn’t theatrical enough, we get a 17-and-a-half-minute metal mini-opera with “The Sword to End All Wars”, then contrastingly the 3-and-a-half minute title track, closing out the record with a folky campfire narration of a man of armour accepting mortality. It’s a fine cut to close the curtains with, both from a lyrical and a musical standpoint due to its comparative calm against the rest of the album.
Like many other standard-issue power metal albums, you get an acceptable degree of sonic variety on this record while it doesn’t venture too far out of the box conceptually, for better or worse. Like Big City from Norway, Vandor has a lane that works for them and doing their best in that lane is all we can ask, unless they were to switch directions completely which would not be wise for them. Keeping on this track for now and continually working on their craft is the best thing they can do, and if they get to a point where what they’ve been doing so far feels niche and limiting, then they can see if it’s worth it to take the leap or make some gradual, moderate adjustments. Until then, may they continue to fight for glory!