As one of the most unique ‘super groups’ to hit the scene, today we have Exit Eden and their debut release “Rhapsodies in Black”. Featuring famed and established Metal vocalists Amanda Somerville, Clémentine Delauney, and up and coming talent Marina La Torraca and Anna Brunner, this outfit is definitely not lacking in vocal talent. This release delivers over 11 tracks with are all cover songs from artists ranging from Depeche Mode to Rihanna. While this might sound a bit odd, this release definitely will appear to fans of Gothic/Symphonic Metal as it has some killer musical arrangements on top of lush vocal harmonies.
Opening with “Question of Time”, the band sets a very lively mood while covering Depeche Mode’s hit. While some of the covers are more interesting than others, tracks like “Impossible” and “Frozen” truly showcase the band’s unique vocal talents while perfectly balancing the unique signing styles of the band’s members. Other songs like their cover of Brian Adams “Heaven”, rely on individual vocal talents and very well-crafted arrangements that totally re-interpret a very well-known song into heavier territories.
Finally immortalizing one of their iconic full-orchestra and choir shows, today we have Dimmu Borgir and the monumental “Forces of the Northern Night”. Featuring around 90 minutes of live material both in video (DVD or Blu-ray) and audio CD’s, this is one of the most epic live releases we have seen in a while. Not needing any introduction, this band will blow you away with the intensity they bring to the live shows.
We are only reviewing their Wacken Open air show in 2012, where the band was accompanied on stage with the Czech National Symphonic Orchestra and the Schola Cantorum choir. In this already legendary concert, the band played the full “Abrahadabra” album first, and then a pretty solid selection of their greatest hits. The first part of the concert hits the listener hard with epic renditions of crushing songs like “Born Treacherous” and “Gateways” featuring a guest appearance by Agnete Kjølsrud.
Everybody’s favorite Roman-inspired band is finally back with another killer onslaught of dramatic symphonic elements and a catchy guitar riffs. “The Immortal Wars” marks Ex Deo’s return with nearly 40 minutes of superbly entertaining music, their first foray since the brilliant “Caligvla” back in 2012. If you like music that has a certain epic feeling to it, similar to bands like Sabaton and Fleshgod Apocalypse, you will love this one.
Opening with the pummeling “The Rise of Hannibal”, the band wastes no time in showing off the big guns with dramatic orchestrations and a solid (and heavy) musical core filled with catchy riffs. Playful tracks like “Hispania” perfectly showcase the band’s skills in balancing heavy sections with hyper fast drumming with more melodic and atmospheric rhythmical sections for headbanging. The opening of “Crossing of the Alps” will greatly send chills down your spine, but it is the punishing Death Metal elements of this track that will make you love it.
Fully exploiting the band’s newfound strengths around singer Dianne van Giersbergen, Xandria delivers one of the best Symphonic/Gothic Metal albums of the last few months with “Theater of Dimensions”. Crafting over 74 minutes of lush and bombastic songs, the band reaches the levels of excellence of bands like Epica, Within Temptation and Nightwish with this killer release filled with epic melodies and mesmerizing arrangements.
Opening with the very dramatic and engaging “Where the Heart is Home”, we instantly get a superbly epic vibe thanks to the vocal arrangements and over the top orchestrations. The band quickly showcases their very diverse musical style while going through excellent songs like “Death to the Holy”, “Forsaken Love” and “Call of Destiny”, all of them showing influences from everything ranging from Power Metal to Folk Metal, but with the distinctive Xandria edge.
After a brilliant 2016 filled with Symphonic/Gothic Metal releases from bands like Epica and Delain, it is quite delightful to hear that 2017 will follow along the same lines, starting with Akoma’s debut full-length “Revangels”. Featuring nine tracks filled with bombastic arrangements, this release perfectly combines soaring vocals and catchy guitars to achieve very dramatic and engaging songs.
The release opens with the very dramatic “Enticing Desire”, a song that reminded us of some of the most recent Within Temptation’s releases. Akoma’s vocalist, Tanya Bell, perfectly balances combining operatic style vocals with more ‘natural’ singing, which in turn allows songs like the opener and “Change of Propensity” to be quite dynamic and engaging. The album’s second track features backing vocals by Liv Kristine, adding an extra dimension to the band’s sound.
As one of the most expected Symphonic/Gothic Metal releases of 2016, today we have Diabulus in Musica and their excellent fourth full-length release “Dirge for the Archons”. Slowly evolving into a beautiful butterfly, this Spanish band’s music has gotten more and more bombastic and explosive over time. Bringing comparisons with Epica, Xandria and After Forever, this release delivers over 60 minutes of captivating music that any fan of the genre will love.
After the traditional warm-up intro, “Earthly Illusions” delivers waves of guitar riffs and orchestral arrangements that are perfectly offset by Zuberoa Aznárez’s signature firm but sweet vocals. As “Marble Embrace” and “Invisible” arrive, we can’t help but notice a very evident similarity to Epica’s music, more than before for the band. This isn’t necessarily bad as there are enough differences in the choir arrangements and song structures to keep them far from being a copycat. And while similar, Gorka and company manage to craft highly memorable songs.
Hailing from Normandy, today we have newcomer Symphonic/Gothic Metal outfit Lost Opera and their sophomore release “Hidden Sides”. In a world filled with Female-led Symphonic Metal bands, it is quite surprising and even rare to hear a band rely mostly on male vocals in the genre. Delivering over 55 minutes of music, this release is quite engaging and fun, perfectly appealing to all fans of the genre that are looking for something a little different.
After the traditional intro, the album blows wide open with the pummeling riffs of “Today I Cry”. This track starts off quite heavy and is perfectly contrasted by engaging keyboards and a mixture of growls and clean vocals. The band’s vocalist Loïc Conti, does a pretty solid job in mixing growls with clean vocals, allowing the songs to be diverse and engaging as we can hear on “Follow the Signs” and “Rage”.
Taking the scene by surprise by changing lead singers, Sirenia manages to come out on top with the brilliant “Dim Days of Dolor”. Delivering over 55 minutes of signature Sirenia Symphonic/Gothic Metal, the band shows no signs of slowing down while unleashing their best release to date. If you are concerned on how Emmanuelle Zoldan fits with the band’s style, you are in for a treat as her vocals perfectly blend with the bombastic nature of the music.
Opening with the explosive “Goddess of the Sea”, the band instantly shows that their sound is still as bombastic as ever and that Emmanuelle’s seductive vocals seamlessly integrate with it. One of the things we love more about Sirenia is the lush and vibrant choir arrangements and this track instantly satisfied our cravings. The catchiest song on this release, and probably the band’s history, comes under the album title and delivers a brilliant chorus section and very digestible and engaging riffs. Once you hear this track, you will not be able to get it out of your head.
Hailing from Finland, today we have Heidi Parviainen’s Dark Sarah and their sophomore full-length release titled “The Puzzle”. Delivering ten bombastic songs of very dramatic and theatrical Symphonic/Gothic Metal, Heidi continues to come out the shadows of her ex band Amberian Dawn and establish her-self (and the new band) as one of the most dynamic and engaging bands in the genre. If you like bands like Nightwish, Epica, Cornoatus, etc. this is one release you don’t want to miss.
After the opening intro, “Island in the Mist” opens up with heavy riffs and magical keyboards. With this approach the track feels quite engaging and very bombastic as Hedi’s vocals appear adding to the magic. With Erkka Korhonen (Northern Kings) and Sami Salonen handling the guitar duties, tracks like “Little Men” and “Ash Grove” are both heavy and playful, changing tempos perfectly and allowing the music to be as dynamic and explosive as possible.
Just when you think that Epica cannot get any better, they drop another masterpiece like “The Holographic Principle”. More bombastic, more explosive and more dynamic, this release further cements the band’s legacy as one of the premiere female-fronted symphonic Metal bands in the world. Featuring over 72 minutes of music spread in twelve brilliant tracks, the band completely blows away any expectations the fans might have from them.
After the traditional intro, the album kicks off in full gear with the dynamic “Edge of the Blade”, a track filled with powerful riffs and soaring vocal arrangements. The choir arrangements in this track instantly set the stage to the most bombastic Epica release ever, and tracks like “A Phantasmic Parade” and “Universal Death Squad” are a testament to that. The album’s instrumentation is top notch and perfectly delivers a unique aural experience.