Album Review – Apolinara / Shadows & Signs (2022)

It’s time for this multi-talented singer to fly solo and deliver a powerful message about facing the endless fight with inner demons in her striking debut album.

Creating Symphonic Gothic Metal with a mystical twist, United States-based but Ukraine-born multi-talented, independent singer and songwriter Apolinara is among us to light up the path where music evokes magic to the sound of her debut full-length opus, entitled Shadows & Signs. Drawing inspiration from her travels and delivering a powerful message about facing the endless fight with inner demons, Apolinara took destiny into her own hands creating the project to write music she loves, with Shadows and Signs being a thrilling odyssey venturing into the realms of dark emotions balanced with the light. Produced by Max Morton (Jinjer, Ignea, Bare Infinity, Morton, Nimea) at Morton Studio and featuring an array of special guests, those being Fabian Morales (Paralyzed Sun, Silent Poetry) on harsh vocals, Vyacheslav Khabarov on lead, rhythm and bass guitars, Alexander Kasiarum on drums, Tatyana Krasavina on cello, Julia Polishchuk on the violin, and Brien Engel on the glass harp, Shadows & Signs is a must-listen for admirers of the music by renowned acts such as Nightwish, Epica and Within Temptation, with each track bringing something different to the record while remaining faithful to the project’s symphonic, gothic roots.

The cinematic and enfolding Intro sets the stage for Apolinara and her guests to mesmerize us all in Wonderful, with Alexander dictating the pace with his classy beats accompanied by epic keys and strident guitars while Apolinara declaims the song’s words beautifully, reminding me of some of the trademark compositions by Nightwish and Epica. Then Vyacheslav adds tons of rage and fire to the music with his riffs and rumbling bass in You Can’t Get Away With This, an awesome display of European Symphonic Metal spearheaded by Apolinara’s stunning vocals; and it’s time to dance with Apolinara to the sound of the epic and symphonic Dragon Dance, with the metallic bass by Vyacheslav making a stylish paradox with the violin by Julia and the crisp vocal lines by Apolinara. Another round of embracing sounds and metallic riffs and bass lines comes in the form of Slowly, with Fabian playing “beauty and the beast” with Apolinara thanks to his hellish gnarls, whereas in The Smile of the Demon the name of the song matches flawlessly with its rhythm, heaviness and epicness, or in other words, it’s a lesson in Symphonic Gothic Metal that will please all fans of the genre, all spiced up by a superb performance by our beloved diva on vocals.

The melodic guitar lines by Vyacheslav kick off the mid-tempo, dark tune No More, feeling more modern than the rest of the album while maintaining Apolinara’s core essence, resulting in what’s perhaps the most commercial of all songs; and back to a more symphonic vibe it’s time for Shadows and Signs, presenting a catchy chorus by Apolinara and Fabian (“Once you learn how to fly / Nothing weights you down / Claim the right to decide / What your life is about / Who are we to deny / Universal Design? / Path of the Warrior of Light  / Lies in Shadows and Signs”) amidst the thunderous bass punches by Vyacheslav. Apolinara and her crew slow things down and bring love to the airwaves with the whimsical ballad Tears of Love, with the gentle sound of the piano complementing Apolinara’s vocals in great fashion, whereas featuring guest Brien Engel on the glass harp, the band delivers a gorgeous acoustic rendition of Slowly, with Apolinara bringing to our avid ears her most passionate vocals of the entire album. Lastly, putting a climatic ending to the album we have the delicate ballad We Had It All, with the ethereal cello by Tatyana adding a touch of melancholy to the music while Apolinara tells her “goodbye” to the listener.

If you want to know more about Apolinara, her career, her projects and plans for the future, you can follow her on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to her YouTube channel for more of her music and other videos, stream her stylish compositions on Spotify, and of course purchase your copy of Shadows & Signs from her BandCamp page, or click HERE for all locations where you can get in touch with Apolinara and enjoy all her musical voyages. As Apolinara herself commented about her debut solo album, “Shadows and Signs is my first full length musical baby. No wonder I feel very sentimental but fierce about it. I’m excited to share it with the world as my personal manifest of inspiration and inner fight with personal demons. Let’s Fire Up!” And that’s exactly what you’ll get in Shadows & Signs, an album overflowing with fire, passion and, of course, the first-class Symphonic Metal brought into being by our beyond talented, distinct musician.

Best moments of the album: Dragon Dance, The Smile of the Demon and Shadows and Signs.

Worst moments of the album: No More.

Released in 2022 Independent

Track listing
1. Intro 1:04
2. Wonderful 4:56
3. You Can’t Get Away With This 5:24
4. Dragon Dance 6:52
5. Slowly 5:12
6. The Smile of the Demon 4:37
7. No More 5:00
8. Shadows and Signs 5:11
9. Tears of Love 3:26
10. Slowly (acoustic) 5:10
11. We Had It All 2:16

Band members
Apolinara – lead and backing vocals, arrangements

Guest musicians
Fabian Morales – growls
Vyacheslav Khabarov – lead, rhythm and bass guitars
Alexander Kasiarum – drums
Tatyana Krasavina – cello
Julia Polishchuk – violin
Brien Engel – glass harp on “Slowly (acoustic)”

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