The L-Train presents the Royal Canterlot Symphonic Metal Orchestra – Fall of an Empire | Symphonic Metal

After 18 months in the making, and marking the longest and biggest project he’s ever created, The L-Train proudly presents to us Fall of an Empire, an opera by the Royal Canterlot Symphonic Metal Orchestra. His second symphonic rock opera, following Moonrise from early 2014, this 50-minute epic tells the rise and fall of King Sombra, and features contributions from dozens of talented artists from the fandom. Take a seat, put on your best headphones, and prepare for a musical journey unlike any other. Full album opera writeup after the break.

We begin with a prologue; The Tale of the Crystal King. This is written and sung by the opera’s narrator, Skybolt, that starts off in a folk style, giving an initial medieval feel. But at the first strike of orchestral drums, the tone changes into full blaring horns and power chords. Switching between acoustic rock and metal over the course of 3 and a half minutes, even the prologue is a journey in itself.

Chapter 1: Welcome To The Empire. A fast paced instrumental starts off this chapter of the opera, with some interesting time signature variations. We are then introduced to Luna, Celestia, and Sombra, performed by Hayley Nelson, TrueSailorComet, and DaWillstanator respectively, as they arrive at the Crystal Empire to be greeted by Sombra and the Crystal Pony Choir. A guitar solo from Secret Metal features in the bridge before all characters sing together in unison of the glory of the two nations.

The second chapter, Crossroads of Life is a duet of love sung by Luna and Sombra. This song is at a much slower pace than the previous chapter, and features a small viola solo by Marc v/d Meulen. Akin to certain love songs from musicals, this chapter of the opera serves as a turning point for events yet to come.

The first of 3 interludes, Adoration, brings back our narrator and the folk style to break up the story into parts. It marks the beginning of our first conflict, and warns of what is yet to come…

A solo piano being chapter 3, Heavy Is The Crown, but is promptly accompanied by horns, drums, and then of course the guitars. I love non-standard time signatures, and so the 7/4 time that starts off this part sits very nicely with me. After Celestia and Luna disagree over the growing estranged relationship, Luna and Sombra unwillingly part ways.

The second interlude, Vindication, then serves as the second turning point in this story. Join us as the descent begins…

Chapter 4: At Any Cost. Love drives people to do things far beyond what one would expect of them, and separation even more so. The most energetic chapter so far, we hear Sombra woefully sing of his loneliness, and the decision he makes to attempt to change fate to his own desire. Magic can be a dark force to be reckoned with sometimes, one should never underestimate it…

Regents of Darkness marks the re-encounter of Luna and Sombra. As Sombra plans to exact revenge on the one who drove him and his love apart, Luna fruitlessly tries to convince him otherwise, only to eventually leave him again and search for a way to undo the damage already done.

A juxtaposed change of tone brings in the start of Kingdoms Divided, the sixth chapter. The three royals divided among themselves, blaming each other and struggling to bring some unity. Celestia and Sombra both fighting to win Luna’s side.

Interlude no. 3, Desperation, marks the beginning of the end. The start to the concluding act of this opera. As weeks go by, no solution is found and Luna grows weaker…

Chapter 7: The Calling. As Sombra’s tyrannical reign increases its grip over the Crystal Empire, the Crystal Ponies seek refuge and help from the sisters. More time signature changes run through this song, and then it fades out as they leave to march upon the Empire…

Heaven’s Fury is the longest of all the chapters in this opera. It brings back the choir element from the prologue, and has a number of tempo and time signature changes to match the ever-changing battle represented in the song. Guitar solos by both The L-Train and Dylzal separate the main clauses sung by our protagonists. The chapter builds to a climax, and ends all too suddenly, as the Equestrian history we know unfurls and the Crystal Empire vanishes into the Frozen North tundra.

Our narrator joins us again for the epilogue; The Fall of the Shadow’s Veil. He brings the story to its conclusion, and this symphonic metal opera closes with the strum of an acoustic guitar.

I realise now, at the end of this writeup, that I’ve moreso retold the story rather than reviewing this album, but where do I even begin to describe this? Excluding projects such as compilation albums, this is possibly the biggest project undertaken in the brony music community fronted by one single person. Not that he would have achieved his goal without the immense efforts of all the musicians and singers involved who are far too numerous to list in this post – see the YouTube or Bandcamp pages for a full list of credits. This symphonic metal opera is a masterpiece, and one of the best things I’ve heard from this music community. Bravo, the Royal Canterlot Symphonic Metal Orchestra, bravo.

Fall of an Empire is available to watch in its entirety on YouTube with complete artwork accompaniment, and can be purchased from The L-Train’s Bandcamp page.

One thought on “The L-Train presents the Royal Canterlot Symphonic Metal Orchestra – Fall of an Empire | Symphonic Metal

  1. Matthew says:

    While I know first hand that a lot of work went into the production, I cannot deny that I was ultimately a little disappointed by it. Particularly in contrast to Moonrise, it was all-in-all a lot less operatic. While the instrumental and choral pieces were spot on, I thought the lead vocals (particularly Sombra) had a style much more in common with Broadway than opera. Additionally, the distinction of songs as separate pieces rather than as sections of a contiguous and flowing whole was more indicative of Broadway style.

    While I cannot say these points make it objectively bad, or any worse than Moonrise, I must admit my disappointment that it was not more of an opera, rather than a musical.


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