Archive for Symphonic Metal

Moonlight Haze – De Rerum Natura

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 28th June 2019 by mickbirchy

Moonlight Haze
De Rerum Natura
Power Metal, Symphonic Metal
Released 21st June 2019
via Scarlet Records

It really is funny, if you follow the scene enough you start to see familiar names here there and everywhere. To the point that it will lead you to more music. This is very much my relationship with the Symphonic and Power metal scene in Europe. It’s a scene where everyone knows everyone, or at least it feels that way. Which is what lead me to Moonlight Haze.  I’ve been a fan of the singer Chiara Tricarico for a while, I first heard her singing in the band Temperance. I just find her vocals really enjoyable and pleasant to listen to and I’m a fan of pretty much any project she lends her name to, so when I heard she was starting a new band with Giulio Capone and includes members (and ex-members) of Temperance, Elvenking, Sound Storm, Teodasia and Overtures. You could probably have won a bet, that I would have taken the time to listen to it at some point. 

From my first listen I immediately gravitated to their music. Tonnes of energy, great production with charm and passion, De Rerum Natura makes a great first impression for fans of power metal who like that little more grandiose tone to the sound. The album wastes no time with engaging and commanding rhythm and tight sounding production that keeps you listening, track after track. The band sounds awesome, with great sounding instrumentation which is mixed really well. The guitars and drums, in particular, hit hard and the bass keeps the rhythm nice and tight and the keyboards set a really nice atmosphere that elevates the music to another level. As great power metal usually does. 

As for the vocal performance from Chiara, well, it’s excellent. As usual, she displays such excellent technique and it makes the lyrics just shine with personality. With this excellent vocal performance, it really brings the entire thing together really nicely. I love the mix of style on the record to with powerful and heavy rhythms and slick, well-executed guitar solos, all packaged in a great power metal experience. I quite like some of the more jazzy and groovy parts between the main parts of the songs, that little bit of intricacy really adds to the enjoyment of listening to this album.

I love the way the overall sound feels to listen to. It has this excellent energy and it’s entertaining from start to finish with lots of replay value. I will admit that I have been playing this album a lot since it’s release and plan one listening to it a whole lot more. If you like your power metal blended well with other musical styling, that also packs that little extra punch, then definitely give De Rerum Natura a listen.

4/5

Mick Birchall

Advertisements

Belle Morte – Game On

Posted in Metal with tags , on 15th January 2019 by izaforestspirit

Belle Morte
Game On
Released 11th April 2018
Gothic Metal / Symphonic Metal
Self-Released

Belle Morte - Game On
‘Game On’ is the first EP from the Belorussian Gothic metal artist Belle Morte. This one-woman project was launched in 2015 and all her music is available for streaming and download from the Bandcamp page.

Female-fronted Gothic metal bands are a dime in a dozen these days. It almost seems that everyone wants to become the next Nightwish. Well, not quite everyone. If you’re looking for another Nightwish clone with over-the-top symphonic, Disney soundtrack -style tunes, operatic vocals under the guise of a metal band you have come to the wrong place… Belle Morte has a very melodic, ethereal voice but is not quite as powerful as that of Tarja Turunen or Floor Jansen. So forget the Nightwish comparisons. Her vocal style is more like that of Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation).

The one thing that I enjoyed most about this EP was the keyboards, the sombre sounds of the cello and violin sandwiched neatly between the guitars and drumming. It is impressive just how well all this works together. Devilish Deal is the most prominent example of this. The instrumental arrangements are absolutely beautiful as are the vocals.

Overall, the only issue I have with this EP is that it is too short. ‘Game On’ offers four tracks of beautifully arranged and skillfully executed Gothic/symphonic metal. I cannot wait to hear a full album.

4/5

Iza Raittila

Gates Of Paris – Gates Of Paris

Posted in CD, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , on 28th December 2018 by mickbirchy

Gates Of Paris

Gates Of Paris

Symphonic Metal, Progressive Rock

Released: 30th November 2018

 Self Released


I have to say I’m pretty damn impressed by this French symphonic metal act, and their new self-titled record is something to shout about. I have to admit, I don’t go hunting for new symphonic metal acts, but they always seem to find me, one way or another. Gates Of Paris are a metal outfit, funnily enough, from France and they bring everything that is interesting and fun about this genre to the forefront on this record.  Their debut album is quite interesting, mixing a variety of different styles of music to create their own unique blend of what I can only call, evil-metal carnival music. It’s epic and weird all at the same time.

I was hooked from pretty much the first moments. The stylistic atmosphere is excellent and sound beautiful right out of the gate. The sound of the band is great with excellent riffs and wonderful musical progressions. I like all of the musical elements that they include on the record, in particular, the Spanish guitar which makes it on to the record on several occasions. It’s always pleasant and great to hear whenever it comes in. Every level of the production is smooth and well integrated. From the great guitar licks, the powerful bass lines to the commanding drums, it all feels so glorious. I really like the way the album flows together, it almost has a serial or concept nature it and every song flows into the next seamlessly.

The album also has interesting musical cues here and there. All of these moments really shine a light how much fun this band can be. Such as having their own version of circus music in there. There really isn’t a lot here that bugs me or annoys me. Really, the only thing that got under my skin is that I never felt the need to return to the album once I listened to it. The music doesn’t have that “re-playability” factor, at least not for me. If you really like this style of music, then maybe there’s more “re-playability” in this for you, but this is a once in a while record for me.

In summary, I do like this album. Gates Of Paris are seriously impressive, considering that this their first record. The sound is crisp and well put together. The production is excellent and overall it’s really a well put together record. It may not be overly captivating to me but I can definitely hear other people really getting into this style of music. If you like your symphonic rock and progressive grooves this is certainly a record that you sink your teeth into.

4/5

Mick Birchall

Caelestia – Thanatopsis

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 4th January 2018 by izaforestspirit

Caelestia
Thanatopsis
Released 8th December 2017
Symphonic Gothic Metal /Melodic Death Metal
Released via EMP Group/SPV Europe

Caelestia - Τhanatopsis

Thanatopsis’ is the second album from the Greek symphonic metal band Caelestia. They have been around since 2012 and they have toured with bands such as The Vision Bleak, Arch Enemy and Draconian. This latest opus was mixed and mastered at Fredman Studio, Gothenburg Sweden by Fredrik Nordström.

My knowledge of the Greek metal scene is limited to just two bands: Astarte and Rotting Christ. I’m particularly fond of the latter…This however doesn’t really sound like either of these. What we have here is an interesting fusion of female-fronted Gothic metal with hints of melodic death metal and symphonic elements. Depending on the song, their music can sound very melodic and pleasant e.g. Dancing With The Demons or harsh and aggressive with elements like death metal growls, abrasive drumming and guitars mid-way through Devil’s Game and the opening of  Travel to Eternity.

If it wasn’t for the melodic death metal elements, I would have probably dismissed this as yet another Nightwish clone. Admittedly their female singer Dimitra Talamamtes Vintsou has a similar voice to that of Tarja Turunen but that’s where the similarities end. Their unusual blend of styles is what makes Caelestia stand out. The mixture of symphonic Gothic metal with melodic death metal maybe a little too much for your average Gothic metal fan. Luckily my taste in metal is more diverse than that. I actually like the contrast between the harsh and the melodic sounds and the dual vocal configuration works surprisingly well. The closest thing I can compare this to would be mid-career Therion; melo-death with symphonic elements but without the choir.

In summary Caelestia’s album turned out to be a lot different from what I expected. Their music doesn’t really fit one specific genre but they do a good job of taking the best elements of various styles to create something memorable. So if you’re bored to listening to Nightwish wannabe Gothic metal or melo-death bands still trying to replicate the “Gothenburg”-sound, then I suggest you give ‘Thanatopsis’ a go.

4/5
Iza Raittila

Headliners announced for Northern Symphony 2018

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on 23rd September 2017 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Coming up to its fourth year, Northern Symphony – the UK’s premier symphonic metal event – is set to take place on Saturday 21st April at its home The Venue in Selby North Yorkshire. Having featured the likes of Winter In Eden, Alwaid, Old Corpse Road and more on its line-up in the past, Northern Symphony is already looking to have another great line-up following the announcement of French philharmonic metallers Whyzdom as the headliners for the 2018 edition.

Whyzdom was founded by guitarist and orchestrator Vynce Leff in early 2007, already well known in the progressive sphere having produced several successful albums for the British label Cyclops Records. After recruiting the band members, a first EP Daughter Of The Night was recorded less than 6 months from the band’s inception. It got instant acclaim from reviewers and music fans around the world.

Although still a young band, Whyzdom were invited to play in several festivals in France – most of the time as headliner – and won the Metal Female Voices Fest Contest in Belgium in October 2008. They played in the 7th edition of this great Festival and also played as official support to Delain to launch their début album in 2009, released by the British label Ascendance Records.

In June 2010, Telya Melane, lead vocalist left the band. Lisa Middelhauve, former Xandria singer, accepted to be “guest lead vocalist” for performances at the Raismes Festival in 2010 and for their concert in Paris as support for Tarja.

While touring in France, Belgium, UK, Switzerland, the band composed their new album BLIND?. Elvyne Lorient joined Whyzdom in February 2012 and recorded all the songs as lead vocalist. The album was released late October, by one of the most important European metal label: Scarlet Records.

The band are now fronted by the talented Marie Rouyer, who joined in 2013, starting with the “Blind?” European tour. Since then, Whyzdom have gone onto play various festivals around Europe including The Dames of Darkness.

Tickets for Northern Symphony 2018 can be found at this location for £15.

Epica – The Solace System

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 4th September 2017 by mickbirchy

Epica
The Solace System
Symphonic Metal, Progressive Metal
Released 1st September 2017
via Nuclear Blast Records

Epica have been on a roll as of late. Last year they came out with one of their most commercially accessible, biggest sounding and most fun album to date. They have followed this up with another little taste of this sound. The Solace System is the new EP that continues the big bombastic sound that they created on The Quantum Enigma and The Holographic Principle. When Epica are truly behind something they put their damnedest into making it sound its best.

They manage to effortlessly weave together beautifully poetic lyrics with brutally harsh and excellently composed and layered musical production. The production is simply phenomenal and every track really hits home. The tight chemistry of the band really shines through on the production, creating some really memorable tunes that feel more complex and interesting. The duel vocal stylings that they are known for sound great once again impress me as they seamlessly dart between the two. Although the EP sounds great, it does come across as a little formulaic.  The more I think about it, the more it feels like they’re treading the same water again. At times it just feels a little too… Expected of them. They really haven’t thrown much into this EP to give it it’s own identity. Maybe if they experimented with a few new ideas but there’s nothing here which isn’t territory they have covered before.

In all honesty, I keep flipping back and forth on this album. As much as it feels passe and ineffective, I’m still enjoying the work. It sounds really pretty. Simone’s vocal work is gorgeous, it sounds really clear and is filled with emotion. That is something that she can always do, she jsut throws herself into her lyrics. The music is tight and well written so I can’t complain. However, I wish they would have tried something a little different rather than give us the scraps of what probably didn’t make the cut on The Quantum Enigma or The Holographic Principle. As most of the songs sound like they could have been ripped straight off of one of them. None of the songs are bad by any stretch of the imagination and maybe these songs are different in theme. So yeah giving their own EP makes sense on that front but they could have used this as a platform to try something new.

I’m trying so hard not to make it sound like I don’t like this EP, I do. I really do. There’s some fantastic tunes and well written songs here. However, I’m one of these people that like artists to at least try something different on every release. Yet, after 15 years maybe they just know their market and know how to make the most out of their audience. As for my final thoughts on this EP… It’s good and let’s face it, if you’re an Epica fan… you’ve already bought it.

3.5/5

Mick Birchall

Quinphonic Festival 4 – Birmingham, UK

Posted in Festival, Live, Metal with tags , , , , , on 22nd April 2017 by mickbirchy

Quinphonic Festival
Bands: Temperance, Serpentyne, Metaprim, Dead of Night, Fourth Circle
Venue: The Roadhouse, Birmingham, UK
Date: 16-APR-2017

 

Another year, another pilgrimage to Birmingham for Quinphonic Festival. I wasn’t able to attend the third edition of the festival in the October of last year. Yet, I was more than ready for the fourth one. This one had a stacked line-up with too. Including Italian hard-hitters, Temperance. The UK debut of, Fourth Circle. Along with three of the best live bands that the UK have to offer in Dead of Night, Serpentyne and Metaprism. A spectacular day of music lay ahead and I was pumped for the day to come. Quinphoinc Festival is all about quality over quantity. Five band all given a headline sets worth of time to show off what they can do. This allows the bands to breathe on stage and the crowd can experience what they’re actually like.

Before I talk about the actual day itself. Let me take you back to the night before, at the Barge and Barrel is Tipton for the Pre-Festival showcase night. A night that I won’t soon be forgetting. It was a great night of music featuring three fantastic UK up-and-comers. Darkest Obsidian, A Clockwork Opera and The Loved and Lost. All three bands were on top form and delivered a great performance. That really showed off their styles well. As a night it really came together with a great crowd. I really enjoyed all three acts, from the pageantry of A Clockwork Opera. To the soaring choruses of Darkest Obsidian with the finesse and energy of The Loved and Lost. It was a great night had by all and I hope to see more from all these bands sooner rather than later.
Now on to the festival itself. I got to the venue early to soak in the atmosphere. It was going to be a great day. All the bands have their own respective niche so there should have been something for every type of fan. As for myself I was looking forward to hearing something new. The only band I was really aware before going to the venue was, Temperance. So no matter the result of the day. I was going to hear something different and new for certain. Now, onto the review!

Fourth Circle

What a firecracker of an opener. This was exactly what was needed to start the day. The French band, Fourth Circle were debuting in the UK and let me say, what a way to make and entrance. The band were energetic and and fun. Their presence was in your face and and bold. Their live production great with every element of the band working outstandingly well. I have to say I was taken completely off guard by their performance. With pomp and pageantry, their music sounded huge with bombast. The music was filled with excellent hooks sinking into your head and this made their songs easy to remember. The band’s on stage chemistry really made these songs larger than life. They seemed to be having a lot of fun up there and this made it easier to enjoy their set. I only had a couple of problems with their set. Firstly, their set felt a little repetitive and it got a little tedious at times. Although those hooks constantly drew me back in. The only other thing that let their set down a bit was that the crowd started to thin out throughout the set, which ruined the atmosphere a little bit. Overall I had a fantastic time watching them. I would say their UK debut was successful and I for would welcome them back anytime!

Dead of Night

Next up was British newcomers Dead of Night. This was a really good set. Even if the songs were a little bland in composition, they more than made up for it in their theatrical stage presentation. Their sound was nice and I enjoyed some of the songs. Their stage presence was exciting and their chemistry was excellent. Really giving a complete package of a show. The vocals were clear and frontwoman, Briony Featon was an exciting presence on the stage. With light up black angel wings she truly gave the band that little bit of an edge. Their music had a decent atmosphere to it and the songs felt well put together. Their music had this really slick vibe to it. More of an old school rock ’n’ roll format to the songs rather than your typical symphonic metal or power metal sound. The centrepiece of the set for me was a gorgeous ballad that invited imagination and let the band really breathe. In all honesty they really won the crowd over. I did feel that their songs were just bland on a compositional level and that let them down a bit for me. However, I will concede that they were incredibly likeable and they presented themselves really well. I thought they were pretty good and I hope they evolve and grow in the future.

Metaprism

Now for the best band of the day and no, I do not make that statement lightly. Metaprism burst on to the stage with life and excitement. They were probably the “heaviest” band of the day and I feel they were the band with the best set. Their songs were high energy and filled with awesome riffs and well executed solos. Their presence had a sense of command to them. When they were performing, the audience were definitely paying attention. Their set was really an intense atmosphere upon the venue and the contrasting duel vocals of the band really gave them that little bit of an edge. It’s like they took the European standards of this style of music and added the British elements to it to make this sound. They came across a really likable people, they were very genuine and humble on the stage as they tried to get the crowd involved more and more into the set. Their set built up and got slowly better and I was completely enthralled with their set and I immediately rushed to the merch table right after their set was over. Which I guess was a good sign. Yes, this was definitely my favourite band of the day. Everything about them was excellent, from their songs to their personalities. They were an exciting and dynamic band, and I can say for certain that I became a fan.

Serpentyne

British folk-rockers Serpentyne took to the stage with finesse and and grace. This had to be one the most interesting sets of the day. On a pure technical level they were incredible but I really couldn’t get into it. Maybe it just wasn’t my sort of music but there was just certain aspects to their performance that turned me off. However, I did like parts and ideas used in the set. The musicianship was excellent and every instrument was played to an expert level. I also really enjoyed the dancer that was in the crowd it added to the enticement of the band. The music had these really good rock n roll elements mixed with the fantastical folk music to make something truly inventive. All of the songs were character piece with stories of vikings, medieval society and fantasy characters which were rich and engrossing. This really peaked my interest. However after the energetic, high pace set from Metaprism, this set felt a little deflating. Also I felt the vocals were a bit overdone. The singing could have been toned down a little. The set ended on a over of the Game of Thrones theme tune which was really well done for what it was. I like this band but I didn’t love it. They are all incredible musicians and the performance was well done, it just may have not been my type of music.

Temperance

Now for the main event of the evening and the only band that I came to this show with any familiarity. Temperance, are one of those band that just use everything at their disposal to entertain a crowd. Their songs are catchy and their energy are infectious. Other than some tech issues with the microphone they set went down without a hitch. The band blasted through their set with great songs. Coming hot off their third album “The Earth Embraces Us All” the set was a great mixture of all three albums. The crowd was really into it as was I. I mean I put down my notepad and just watched the show. The live production was really good, although the drums were a little loud at times. Also the backing tracks they were using didn’t come through the best at times. Frontwoman, Chiara Tricarico was an engaging presence on stage as was guitarist, Marco Pastorino. You really couldn’t keep your eyes off of them. Also with the sheer technical ability of them they made an impressive show as the final band of the day. They really were the cherry on top of an excellent day.

Words by Mick Birchall
Photos by David Sarah