The fifth full-length release from Delain finds the Dutch symphonic metal act looking towards the future with a combined sense of fear and optimism. Appearing to presage dark, dystopian times, the riffs and beats on the latest album Apocalypse & Chill (Napalm Records) are countered (for the most part) by the uplifting vocal melodies of singer Charlotte Wessels as they suggest a more hopeful future. Continue reading
Megaherz have been going strong for several decades and have meandered through alternative styles before finding a firm footing in NDH. This Neue Deutsche Härte is a distinctly German mix of Hard Rock, Metal, and Industrial made famous by bands as Oomph and Rammstein. It has been a couple of years in the making, but the band is back with a new studio album, Komet (Nuclear Blast). Continue reading
With the EP Fire & Ashes (Napalm), German Symphonic Metal band Xandria releases their second work to feature vocalist Dianne van Giersbergen.
Only the first three songs on the EP are new and original works. Opening number ‘Voyage of the Fallen’ is impressive with its use of orchestra and choir, but it lacks features that set it apart from other symphonic bands. In fact, it sounds like After Forever, Epica, and Nightwish rolled into one. ‘Unembraced’, however, has a much more unique feel with some guitar riffs and synths that feel more like NDH (Neue Deutsche Härte). This is new and interesting, and is something they should pursue if they want to really stand out from the crowd as the prospect of more high operatic vocals over NDH is very exciting. The final original song, ‘In Remembrance’, is very pure and small, and coupled with the theme and classical style this brings to mind ‘When I am Laid in Earth’ from the opera Dido and Aeneas.
The EP also features two re-releases of old songs, namely Ravenheart, previously on Ravenheart and ‘Now & Forever’, previously on India (both Drakkar). They are both good songs, but neither have enough individuality to really set them apart from other Symphonic Metal bands.
Then there are the two covers. One is Meatloaf’s ‘I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)’, and that actually works really well once they really immerse it in their own style. The other shows a serious lack of judgement, because it is Sonata Arctica’s ‘Don’t Say A Word’. Since this is the same genre of music, everything but the vocals is identical to the original. And the operatic vocals miss the sting that Tony Kakko gives to a line like “Open your blue eyes, tell me that you love me, whore!” Only the bridge is done in a very original manner. This would have been great as a live performance, because Xandria fans are bound to know Sonata Arctica, but it doesn’t have enough that’s recognisably Xandria – or at least, that’s not Sonata – in it to earn its place on an album.
With only three new songs, two old songs, and two covers, it is not clear to me why the band actually made this EP. The new material is good, and has a little more individuality than the older material, but it would be much better suited to an album of its own.