In this column we run the gamut of symphonic metal, from the dark and black to the pretty frock variety.
Damnation Angels have released a cracking slab of symphonic metal in the form of Bringer of Light. What is most surprising is that this band are from Doncaster, U.K., not from Norway or Sweden. Obviously the North Sea is blowing over musical vibes to the North of England. The songs are epic, and there is a very much a Kamelot – who are American but sound very Scandinavian – vibe to this music. Interestingly enough the vocals are very “modern” sounding and less traditional heavy rock in tone – almost poppy. Nonetheless, it all blends together nicely and shines on tracks like “Acerbus Inceptum.” With a little luck this lot could crack the mainstream music market.
Edenbridge are back with a lovely collection of their brand of metal called The Bonding. Rest assured, this band have not toned down their epic scope. They have truly walked out of Nightwish’s huge shadow and emerged as a pretty frock metal premiere league band. This Austrian band’s twist on the genre is that they sound more Germanic than Scandinavian in their music. The interludes are Wagnerian in scope and breadth. Opener “Mystic River” encapsulates in extremis. Vocalist Sabine Edelsbacher has a less operatic voice than former Nightwish singer Tarja and less showtune-ish than some of genre’s more West End/Broadway musical-like vocalists.
Eternal Tears of Sorrow have released Saivon Lapsi and it is quite a statement. This is a band that straddle the ever shifting sands of the line between symphonic and melodic death metal. They have created an album which evolves during its length from the latter genre to the former with the final track wrapping it all nicely. This is dark and deep but melodic enough to draw you into the album. The contrast between clean and rough vocals is helped because the arrangements on this album are well done. Tracks like “Dance of December” are catchy at the same time as being dark and broody in an intoxicating mixture that works. Just for a laugh they toss in the male-female-sung melodic track “Sound of Silence” that could easily have come off the new Tristania album. Then again, so could “Beneath the Frozen Leaves” one track later.
ReVamp is one I missed, and boy do I regret not hearing their 2010 self-titled debut before now. The song “Sweet Curse” is worth the price of admission alone. It has an impressive male/female duet that rivals some of Within Temptation’s grand tracks like the mind-blowing “Somewhere” – there is also a good live version of “Sweet Curse” on YouTube that features Simone Simons. This is Floor Jansen’s post-After Forever band – she is also in Star One. It is very easy to figure out why Nightwish, for live dates, tapped Jansen to replace Anette Olzon when she was fired from the band. It will be interesting to see if Nightwish manage to get her full time as ReVamp are set to release a new album soon.
Trail of Tears successfully tread a fine line on their releases, and Oscillation is no exception. They hover between symphonic metal and death-tinged goth, not fearing to tread anywhere between them. For every track like “Scream Out Loud” there is also a song that could fill the dance floors at any goth club in the world. It is heavy on the keys and very upbeat. And that is what makes this lot’s albums so interesting. There is quite a bit of variety in their output. They are very much the missing link between the darkness of Tristania and the more accessible music of Serenia.
Tristania are back with new release Darkest White. This is dark and the male death metal vocals of Anders Høyvik Hidle are in stark contrast to the female vocals of Mary Demurtas. This music is very different from much of the symphonic metal out there, as it mixes in goth elements and is not the slightest bit upbeat. Then again, songs like the title track have far more in common with bands like Paradise Lost than they do most of genre. Still, the contrast between male and female vocalists on individual tracks keeps things fresh. There is nothing pretty or melodic about this but it is engaging just the same. This heavy gothic stamp on the album might have something to do with some of the dire reviews of their previous album Rubicon by outraged fans.
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