ALBUM REVIEW: Surma – The Light Within

 

A duo comprising Czechian vocalist Viktorie Surmøvá (Bohemian Metal Rhapsody) and Týr guitarist Heri Joensen, symphonic metal act Surma was formed in 2018 but spent the following year writing and arranging the music for their debut release.

Taking their cues from other symphonic acts such as Nightwish and Within Temptation, the eponymously titled Surma(Metal Blade) is awash with soaring vocals, chugging riffs, and a pounding rhythm section courtesy of studio bassist Rens Bourgondiën and former Arkona sticksman Aleksandr Zhukov.

Right from the sweeping cinematics of instrumental ‘Rendition’ and the ABBA style opening to the uplifting ‘Reveal the Light Within’, it’s clear what the next forty minutes or so has in store. Joensen adds growls and harshly sung vocals to tracks such as ‘Like the River Flows’, the darkly jagged ‘Cages of Rage’, and ‘Lost to Time’, but it’s Surmøvá’s show all the way, and she steals it with ease.

Her performances on ‘Desire’, and the dramatic ‘Emptiness (Is no More)’ display fragility and strength, while her aerials on ‘Fire and Wind’, the muscular ‘Until it Rains Again’, and the Nightwish infused folk of ‘The Selkie (Kópakonan)’ are warm and smooth. ‘Downfall’ shows determination and strength, but it’s on ‘The City of Winds’ where the duo begins to find their own identity among the Nightwish and Epica-isms. A perfectly balanced cut featuring brilliantly performed dual vocals.

Brand new songs which feel like slipping on a comfortable pair of old shoes, Surma offers nothing but chunky riffs and choruses catchier than Covid at a Trump rally. Straightforward but emotive symphonic metal at its best.

7 / 10

GARY ALCOCK