As one of the band’s most elaborate and grandiose albums, today we have Epica’s highly awaited “Requiem for the Indifferent”. Packing in around 71 minutes of music in 13 tracks, this release is by far the band’s most musically ambitious release to date. While marinating their traditional Gothic/Symphonic Metal approach, Epica manages to incorporate Progressive elements into their already excellent sound, and end up with a release that is as complex as it is long.
In a similar fashion to MaYaN’s “Quarterpast”, this release requires more than a few spins before it really starts to sink in and you will start to enjoy it. While we think it is great that a band is making an effort in growing as musicians and making their sound a bit more complex, this might also alienate some fans that just like plain bombastic songs they can cheer/headbang to. “Requiem for the Indifferent” is not all very complex, but it feels like much more of an effort has to be put to it to be really enjoyed.
As one of the very few internationally recognized Gothic Metal bands from Spain, today we have Diabulus In Musica and their Napalm Records debut release “The Wanderer”. Greatly improving on their debut full-length “’Secrets”, the band consolidates their sound and delivers 12 tracks of brilliantly crafted Gothic/Symphonic Metal that will bring comparisons to Epica, Nightwish, etc.
Revolving around the heavenly vocals of Zuberoa Aznárez (we challenge you to say the name 5 times straight), “The Wanderer” feels a lot more mature than their previous effort in the sense that all tracks are more concise and everything shines at its own pace. After the bombastic intro, “Ex Nihilo” shines with heavy guitars, intricate drumming and very enchanting choir sections. This song indeed sounds a lot like Epica but when Zuberoa’s vocals kick in, it takes a whole new dimension. Very sweet and commanding, her voice is one of the signatures of the band and sounds like none other.
Many people (including us) thought that Xandria was finished when their iconic vocalist Lisa Schaphaus-Middelhauve left the band back in 2009, but with their latest album “Neverworld’s End” the band sounds better than ever and are turning heads and convincing non-believer. Taking on a more bombastic sound, the band fully uses Manuela Kraller soprano vocals to song like a real Gothic/Symphonic Metal band should and blow listeners away with a very rich and diverse sound.
One thing that came immediately to us after the first few spins of this release is that “Neverworld’s End” actually sounds a lot like early Nightwish when Tarja was in charge of the vocals. Before all haters go and complain about this we must say that while playing similar music, Xandria feels very refreshing since most of the good Gothic/Symphonic bands are not trying to sound pop-ish and commercial friendly. This leaves the field completely open to bands that stick to was good a few years ago and still manage to sound Metal enough.
Arriving all the way from Italy to North America through End of Light records, today we have Infinita Symphonia and their debut full-length release “A Mind’s Chronicle”. With their traditional Power/Heavy Metal approach that features some symphonic elements as the album progresses, this Italian band delivers around 55 minutes of excellent music that while not very original, it is very well crafted and perfectly executed.
Opening with the powerful “Lost in My Own Brain” the band shows their chops in creating catchy and effective songs. The layered vocal sections are top notch and the guitar work is very well crafted, there are even some ‘harsh’ screams to add to the intensity of the track. “Mighty Storm” delivers more waves of crunchy riffs and very potent vocals, but the guitar work around the 3 minute mark is what takes the spotlight in this song. There is nothing overly pretentious and exaggerated about Infinita Symphonia’s music, and this is what makes them so good.
”Existence” marks the ’bands’ 4th full-length album, and it is clearly their most impressive and ambitious release to date. With a vast array of guest musicians, this release is one of THE Melodic Metal/Rock albums of the year, even though it was released in 2010 elsewhere, we recently received a copy of the North American edition thru End of Light records.
With this double album, Beto Vázquez has managed to put together a very eclectic mix of musicians and each of the 20 songs combines powerful melodies with outstanding vocals. While the guest musician list is huge, is not as impressive as the ones from bands/projects as Star One, Ayreon and Avantasia. Most of the guests in this album, with the exception of Timo Tolkki, might be considered from the ‘B list’ of Metal, but they are equally talented and are just a bit less known that the ones on the ‘A list’ of Metal. We particularly like this approach since it allows the listener to discover lesser known bands due to the performances of their vocalists.
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.
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”.
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”.
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.
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.