Hailing from Spain, today we have Embersland and their very catchy and well-crafted Symphonic/Gothic Metal with some Power Metal elements thrown into the mix. Featuring nine tracks and around 48 minutes of music, this release is an emotional rollercoaster filled with powerful guitars, tight drumming, and masterfully led by the vocals of Will, May and Xavi. Appealing to a wide spectrum of listeners, “Dark Ages” is one memorable release.
Opening with the 9 minute playful piece “Sunrise (Part II)”, the band instantly showcases their evolution since their 2013 release. With more focused songwriting and more mature skills, this track features majestic vocal melodies and emotional keyboards. The band nicely keeps up the initial track’s momentum with solid songs like “Closer”, “Hope”, and the superbly catchy “WTF…Fuck Off!”, which has a killer chorus section. It is quite evident that the band is nicely maturing as their sound is very cohesive with all their elements coming together quite nicely.
Continuing with the momentum of the band’s latest masterpiece “Sacrificium”, today we have Xandria and their bombastic EP “Fire & Ashes”. Featuring 35 minutes of music that span a few new songs, some re-recorded tracks and two covers, this is enough material to hold off any fan of the band and the genre until the band’s new record is ready.
Opening with a bombastic explosion, “Voyage of the Fallen”, delivers a very Epica-esque track that features very dynamic choir arrangements and a very dramatic musical progression. The band’s explosive sound is in full swing with this very apt opener, with Dianne van Giersbergen’s vocals shining from start to end. Changing the pace into a more melodic and head banging mode, the lush melodic passages of “Unembraced” make them perfect to start head banging. Both of these tracks are completely new and recorded especially for this release.
Delivering one of the most bombastic and ridiculously epic releases of 2015, today we have Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody with “Prometheus”. Vastly improving over their 2012 “Ascending to Infinity” the band elevates its game to reach new heights in terms of lush cinematic experiences. If you could imagine Therion paired with Blind Guardian and old Stratovarius, that is exactly what this album sounds like.
Building a very dramatic opening with “Il Cigno Nero”, the band’s signature intense tempo and theatrical vibe is felt instantly through Alessandro Conti’s vocals and Luca Turilli’s talented musical composition skills. The extreme usage of orchestrations and choir arrangements greatly pays off on tracks like “Anahata”, the dramatic “One Ring to Rule them All”, and the majestic “Prometheus”. The basic Power Metal core aspect of the band’s sound is kept very tidy through Alex Landenburg’s drumming and Patrice Guers’s bass guitar lines.
Arriving from France this week we have Evolvent and their sophomore release “Whatever Happens”. Catering to fans of Visions of Atlantis, Trail of Tears and Voices of Destiny, this band delivers ten excellent tracks that are quite enjoyable thanks to their commanding female vocals and creative song structures.
Immediately after the intro we have the superbly catchy “Win or Die”, a song that showcases Emma Elvaston’s talents and the band’s knack for atmospheric compositions. As things progress to catchier and craftier songs like “Hurricane” and “Love Doesn’t Love Me”, the band shows their versatility with solid riffs and very precise drumming, with some growls thrown into the mix.
From the creative mind of Heidi Parviainen (ex-Amberian Dawn), today we have a very diverse and refreshing Symphonic/Gothic Metal album titled “Behind the Black Veil”. With more of a cinematic/theatrical approach than your traditional Symphonic/Gothic Metal band, Dark Sarah delivers a very engaging release filled with guest appearances and expertly crafted melodies.
Telling the story of Sarah, this release sets the backdrop of the story with the opening tracks “Save Me”, “Poison Aple” and “Hide and Seek”, all of which feature a more passive and theater-like approach to them. The music is quite well crafted and Heidi’s vocals instantly charm the listener into continuing their journeys. Things move into more familiar territories with “Memories Fall”, a song that features a guest appearance from Manuela Kraller. While more of your typical song for the genre, it nicely keeps the album and story progression going with a more bombastic and explosive piece.
Featuring all the right ingredients to make a great Symphonic Metal band, today we have Enemy of Reality and their bombastic debut release “Rejected Gods”. Filled with catchy vocal melodies and excellent atmospheric passages, these newcomers from Greece deliver the WOW factor with 45 minutes of brilliant music.
After the typical warm-up intro, the band starts things with the super catchy “My Own Master”, a track that features Mike LePond handling the bass guitar duties. In this song we are gladly impressed by the very mellow and yet powerful vocal performances, allowing Iliana Tsakiraki to instantly standout. The band’s music is much like your Serenity / Sirenia type of Symphonic Metal with Gothic elements, and they greatly interate their guest vocals into the band’s unique groove as we can hear in “Needle Bites” which incidentally features Ailyn from Sirenia.
The highly consistent Sirenia returns with yet another masterful Gothic/Symphonic Metal release. Morten Veland has always been known for his consistency and signature approach to the genre and with “The Seventh Path”, he delivers another quality release that fans will absolutely love. Featuring 11 tracks of majestic female vocals paired with dramatic and bombastic music, this is one of those albums that will stand out this 2015.
After the lush opener “Seti”, the band delivers the explosive “Serpent”. In this moment you are instantly transported into Sirenia’s world, as the band delivers a fully immersive experience with their music. The signature growls and riffs from Morten Veland make their way, and we instantly felt right at home. With a bigger emphasis on more Symphonic elements, “Once My Light” features some very cool Gregorian-style chorus arrangements that take the song to a whole new level.
As the most expected release from 2015, today we have Nightwish and their eight full-length release: “Endless forms Most Beautiful”. Armed with two new band members, this legendary Symphonic Metal band delivers nearly 80 minutes of music in their most ambitious album to date. The album is naturally filled with fast, catchy and heavy tracks that are perfectly combined with dramatic symphonic arrangements, all nicely tied together with a very powerful message.
Opening with the bombastic “Shudder Before the Beautiful”, the band sets a very active tempo since the beginning. Floor Jansen’s vocals work very well for Nightwish and they greatly shine in this release. It was obvious that the band’s previous singer had considerably less range than Floor, and the band is now back into their lush and explosive musical days from their Tarja-era. The choir arrangements are extremely well delivered and greatly enhance the music. Marco Hietala has a reduced role, in terms of singing, in this release but it makes his moments count like on the epic “Weak Fantasy”.
Very far from the explosiveness and originality of their 2010 debut release “From the Ashes”, today we have Voices of Destiny and their latest offering “Crisis Cult”. As the first blow to the band, they have lost their signature vocalist Maike Holzmann and their drummer Erik Seitz since their last release, the band delivers a very unimaginative run-of-the-mill Gothic/Symphonic Metal release with this one.
Having been a fan of the band in the past, this new release showcases their weaknesses in composing compelling music and only highlights their abilities to borrow elements from other bands without having a signature staple on top of their music. The band’s new vocalist Ada Flechtner (ex-Coronatus) does a pretty decent job, but the music is ultimately what falls flat in this release. The opener “Wolfpack” has the band continuing their path with dramatic orchestrations, but the sudden tempo change when the vocals appear feels weird and reminds us of the ill-fated band Darkwell. Similar tempo changes and odd combinations of elements make songs like this one and “The Easy Prey”, “21 Heroes” and “Stormcrow” to feel very odd and disconnected.
Hailing from Romania, today we have The Hourglass and their majestic Symphonic/Gothic Metal release “Through Darkness and Light”. With countless bands in this genre, it is quite hard to find standout bands and releases, but The Hourglass managed to surface from the pile and claimed our attention for more than several hours – a feat considering the amount of CD’s we review every week.
Avoiding any filler intro track, the band gets down to business with the lush “Dying Star”, a song that is quite dynamic and features some interesting electronic elements thrown into the mix. This track reminds us a bit of a mixture of Nemesea and Edenbridge. The band’s vocalist Alma Vomastek delivers an incredible performance with her excellent vocal talents. As the band delivers bombastic songs like “Rise” and “Away”, our attentions are greatly focused on the ballad “Dare”. In this very dramatic song we greatly appreciate the band’s intricate songwriting skills that perfectly outline every single element in their sound.