Formed in 2009, American/Canadian Power Metal act Insatia have hardly been the most prolific studio band, with only the independently released (but fairly well received) 2013 début, Asylum Denied, to their name after four years in existence. Another four years and an almost complete overhaul in personnel later, the band return with impressive sophomore offering, Phoenix Aflame (Pitch Black).
Fronted by singer Zoë Federoff, the Tucson/Montreal based band enlisted the help of Fabio D’Amore (Serenity), Ivan Moni Bidin (Starsick System), and Staffan Karlsson (Arch Enemy, Firewind) as producers.
After the short opener ‘Intro (Land of the Living)’, the album lifts off properly with the dramatic choppy palm-muted riffs and swirling keyboards of ‘Act of Mercy’. However, as with every other track on the album, it’s main focal point is the vocal performance of Federoff.
The keyboards are turned up a couple of notches with ‘Memory of a Sapphire’ which also includes a guest solo by former Arch Enemy six stringer, Chris Amott. ‘Sacred’ is backed by a darkly melancholic violin melody, while ‘We Are The Grey’, ‘Not My God’ and the title track are three of the album’s undisputed highlights.
With guest appearances from Apollo Papathanesio (ex-Firewind, Spiritual Beggars), Erica James (The Erica James Band), and ChristianHermsdörfer (ex-Visions Of Atlantis, Serenity), Phoenix Aflame is a solid and enjoyable Power Metal record with impressive performances from the newly formed collective of Dave Ablaze (Bass), Kaelen Sarakinis (guitars), and Daniel Millan (drums).
However, if the band wish to rub shoulders with bigger names within the genre, a less simplistic approach may be required. Although each composition is certainly memorable in its own right, there’s a noticeable lack of variety across the record, and although Federoff clearly possesses a wonderful voice, there’s a nagging feeling that she’s singing within herself and playing it safe. With a bit of adventure and some pushing in the right direction, bigger things could very well be around the corner.