Symphonic Metal

  • Lapis Lazuli – A Justified Loss (2011)


    Cranking out their second full-length release in 2011, today we have Lapis Lazuli and “A Justified Loss”. In this release the band delivers over 43 minutes of high-octane Symphonic/Gothic Metal graced by the beautiful vocals of Frida Eurenius. If you are a fan of Visions of Atlantis, Epica, Sirenia, and Xandria, you will love this release.

    After the traditional instrumental opener “Facing Demons”, the band comes at us with the bombastic “Leaving Scars”. In this song the keyboards are cranked up to 11 and provide a lush background to Frida’s vocals. While the band’s approach to the genre is very typical and traditional, the songs presented in “A Justified Loss” are very entertaining and demand a high-replay count in order to fully digest them.

  • Voices of Destiny – Power Dive (2012)


    Almost two years have passed since Voices of Destiny’s excellent debut album titled “From the Ashes”, this 2012 they return with “Power Dive”. In their sophomore release, the band delivers nine very well crafted tracks (plus intro and outro tracks) that will surely be a complete hit with fans of the band. Continuing where they left of with “From the Ashes”, the band focuses their sound around Maike’s excellent vocals and the over the top symphonic arrangements that Lukas Palme provides.

    “Power Dive” is an excellent release that if you don’t mind it sounding very similar to their first album, it will be one of your top 10 albums of the year. However, if you are looking for some evolution in the band’s sound, you will not be finding it. There are a few changes here and there, like more complex guitar lines and a bit more elaborated orchestrations, but the formula of success is still the same as on “From the Ashes”.

  • Nightwish – Imaginaerum (2011)


    It has been four years since the last Pop Metal installment of Nightwish with “Dark Passion Play”. With Anette Olzon finally incorporated into the band’s sound, Nightwish delivers a pretty decent effort with some ‘real Nightwish’ songs and some other ‘money making Nightwish’ tracks. There is a clear distinction between the songs that have more metal structures and the ones that are just to make the teenyboppers jump up and down.

    The whole super pretentious concept of having a movie made for “Imaginaerum” and crap like that just shows that the band is moving into very self-indulgent territories. However, the music behind this “Imaginaerum” stuff is not quite bad, and many will be shocked to actually read this, so please bear with us. The opener song “Storytime” immediately induces some gag reflex from us when we first heard it and its crack-induced music video. The track is very bland and capitalizes on the heavy guitars with catchy vocal melodies format, something that Amaranthe made us hate this 2011. this song also sounds very much like anything else from “Dark Passion Play”.

  • Visions of Atlantis – Maria Magdalena (2011)


    With its latest incarnation, Visions of Atlantis delivered earlier this year one of their best albums to date with “Delta”. In “Maria Magdalena” follows the same path of showing off the amazing vocal chemistry of Maxi Nil and Mario Plank. Featuring six songs, this new MCD will keep fans satisfied after listening to “Delta” hundreds of times.

    The opening track of this release “Maria Magdalena” is a cover of 80’s synth-pop artist Sandra, and it is actually a pretty decent and listenable cover. The tempo of the song has been nicely increased and with added distorted guitars sounds like a million dollars. The duet between Mario and Maxi is very similar to the original song, but with that nice Metal edge we expect from this band. The catchy chorus section is also nicely transferred to the VoA sound.

  • Meden Agan – Erevos Aenaon (2011)


    As one of the most professional sounding self-released album we have received in 2011, Meden Agan’s “Erevos Aenaon” can easily compete with any big-budget Gothic/Symphonic Metal album this year. With such a rich sound and excellent production, Meden Agan is ready to make a run at the spotlight and they sure have a good shot thanks to this excellent release.

    Opening with “Black Sky”, the band immediately establishes its bombastic sound thanks to heavy keyboard use, pounding guitars, and angelic female vocals. The band’s female vocalist, Iliana Tsakiraki, delivers a very emotional performance that is greatly (and sometimes annoyingly) enhanced by extreme vocal layering. Her voice is very good and has some hints of Amberian Dawn and similar bands, not too sweet and not overly done like many classically trained singers come across.

  • Sarah Jezebel Diva – The Corruption of Mercy (2011)


    After the downright horrendous “A Sign of Sublime”, Sarah Jezebel Diva (and company) returns with a redeeming album titled “The Corruption of Mercy”. Featuring 10 tracks of pretty solid Symphonic/Gothic Metal, Sarah delivers a great vocal performance with catchy songs and a considerably better sound than in her first album.

    Opening with “No Paragon of Virtue”, we have very powerful guitar work and hectic drumming paired with nice vocal arrangements and a thick keyboard atmosphere. This song at times sounds like Black Metal song and we totally dig this more aggressive approach to thing from the band. In a more symphonic fashion we have “The World Won’t Hold Your Hand”, a very melodic song that showcases Sarah’s talents very dynamically.

  • Fleshgod Apocalypse – Agony (2011)


    Can you imagine how Dimmu Borgir and Xerath sound on crack? Well Fleshgod Apocalypse is the answer to that question. As one of the most intense releases we have heard in 2011, “Agony” is by far a very though cookie to digest since there is just too much shit going on at the same time, and it’s awesome.

    The first impression the listener will get from the album is that this is just another overly exaggerated orchestral approach to extreme music. “The Hypocrisy” delivers ridiculous orchestrations (although very simple ones) on top of a brutal Death Metal foundation, something that might seem rather disconnected at first. The female sounding vocals (might be a dude) seem ripped off straight from the last Dimmu Borgir album and a bit of the darker atmosphere also sound very familiar.  

  • MaYaN – Quarterpast (2011)


    MaYaN is Epica’s mastermind Mark Jansen latest creation and with this band he expects to fulfill other creative needs he has outside of Epica. This band in paper has a very impressive line-up since for the CD recording we had Jeroen Paul Thesseling on bass guitar, Frank Schiphorst and Isaac Delahaye on guitars as well as many guest appearances by Simon Simons, Floor Jansen and Henning Basse.

    If you are expecting another Epica / (early) After Forever album, please stay away from this release since Quarterpast is considerably different to what you have heard before. This release is more focused on progressive Death Metal sections with some symphonic elements, tons of diverse vocal lines, and some orchestral elements (very few). We also want to warn the listener that this release is definitely a grower, since it needs more than your average number of listens to fully be digested due to the richness of the music.

  • Avantasia - The Flying Opera: Around The World In 20 Days LIVE (2011)


    As one of the best Symphonic Power Metal projects in the world, Avantasia is one of our favorite bands and we anxiously waited for this live release. However, we only got the promo for the CD tracks and they don’t really show (in our opinions) the real sound of Avantasia.

    We all love the brilliant production and the countless guest appearances in the albums, but somehow in the live setting we get a much stripped down version of Avantasia. Having a less bombastic and more straight-forward sound, “The Flying Opera” mostly showcases Tobias Sammet’s singing abilities and some pretty solid Heavy Metal tracks.

  • Within Temptation – The Unforgiving (2011)


    After all the selling out the band has done over the years and Sharon doing songs with Armin Van Buuren, I personally wanted to listen to this album to see how the band would keep their Metal fans, but still pushed forward with a more ‘commercially friendly’ sound.

    With the first single, “Faster”, the band was on way to a completely disastrous album in my opinion since this song is another ‘dance’ anthem with catchy electronic elements and chorus sections. The rest of the album however, is a very different story. While there are obviously ‘pop-ish’ elements in this release, there are also many more elements of “Mother Earth” and “The Silent Force”, than in the band’s last shit-sandwich “The Heart of Everything” release.


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