Power metal is a niche genre, but it is one that newcomers seem to be highly receptive to when introduced to it. Therefore, I took it upon myself to introduce to my audience what is currently the best power metal album of the year. “The Golden Pentacle” is the first installment of a passion project by Marco Garau, the keyboardist for Italian power metal band Derdian, one of my all-time favorites. This album, perhaps unsurprisingly, is not too different in style from Derdian’s body of work. That warrants no complaint from me because this album’s sound is just as fantastic as the sound of Derdian’s catalogue, if not more so.

The album clocks in at a little over an hour, yet not once does it get boring, even during my fourth listen. Most of the songs make for a highly enjoyable, fast-paced power metal romp. To some this album may seem repetitive, with most of the songs falling under a fairly similar high-tempo template, but there are a few tracks that divert from this template such as the galivanting mid-tempo track “Fight for the Victory” and the passionate slow-tempo ballad “The Other Side.” These songs add some diversity to the album, but high-tempo melodic power metal is the name of the game for “Golden Pentacle.” As a result, this album might not be appealing to those unfamiliar or uninterested in this musical style. If you are interested in this style or are a fan of it, however, this album is a treasure trove.

Despite the album’s seemingly repetitive nature, I can point out some notable highlights. The title track starts the album off quite memorably with a slow, mystical-sounding intro before leading into the first of many memorable melodic hooks. The song is a very strong beginner overall. “Elixir of Life” has a particularly beautiful chorus melody that has a bit more of a bittersweet feel to contrast from the more triumphant feel of the other tracks. “Never-Ending Pain” showcases a darker and more uncertain tone, with some tempo changes and very impressive growling vocals from vocalist Anton Darusso (these growling vocals can also be heard on the finale track “Until the End of Time” if this piques your interest). This track also has some of the album’s best instrumental soloing from Garau and from the guitarists Matt Krais and Gabriel Tuxen. If I had to choose one song that best represents the album however, it would be “Thief of Souls.” From its tension-building start to its explosive verses and chorus, this song is the one that has stuck with me the most and serves and a powerful climax leading to the final track. As the lyrics state that the protagonist of the album feels invincible, so too does the listener feel that sense of enhanced power listening to this song. Pointing these highlights out is not meant to downplay the quality of the other tracks. Every song on this album is a knockout, but for those still uncertain, I would recommend these songs to see if the sound is for them.

As the name of the band suggests, this album tells an epic fantasy story. Unfortunately, the band has not posted the lyrics for the album anywhere aside from a lyric video for “Thief of Souls,” so I cannot comment on the story. Aesthetically, however, the fantasy element can still be felt with the epic orchestral arrangement and lyrics of magic and heroism, so I would recommend this album, and power metal in general, for those interested in hearing metal music with a fantasy-based twist.

“The Golden Pentacle” is the definition of a passion project. It was clearly made with the artists’ vision of a fun and enjoyable power metal album without any interference to write or produce the songs in a certain way or to compromise themselves. Garau and his bandmates worked hard to create this record and the quality of it shows. I give “The Golden Pentacle” a 9.5 out of 10.