Album Review – Xandria / The Wonders Still Awaiting (2023)

It’s time to embark on an exciting journey to experience a world of sound never heard before in the universe of the German masters of Symphonic Metal.

The time has finally come to dive into new adventures. Six years after the release of Theater of Dimensions, Bielefeld, Germany-based Symphonic Metal masters Xandria are finally back in action with a brand new opus, titled The Wonders Still Awaiting, the eighth studio album in their career, and the first to feature the Greek goddess Ambre Vourvahis on vocals, Rob Klawonn on the guitars, Tim Schwarz on bass, and Dimitros Gatsios on drums, alongside the band’s mastermind Marco Heubaum. Mixed and mastered by Jacob Hansen, and displaying a stylish artwork by Zacarias Guterres, The Wonders Still Awaiting presents 13 tracks in total, clocking at over one hour of music, sounding harder, darker and more epic than all of their previous efforts while holding an intimate setting and range of emotions at the same time. Next to a 40-piece classical choir, authentic Celtic instruments represented by renowned musicians as well as delicate violin and cello contributions, the album is topped by the Bulgarian National Radio Children’s Choir, which marks the first collaboration of this kind in the band’s history.

Gentle keys kick off the opening tune Two Worlds, evolving into a Symphonic Metal feast led by the classy riffs by Marco and Rob and, of course, the striking vocals by Ambre. It’s indeed a beautiful way to start their metallic voyage, whereas  Dimitrio pounds his drums accompanied by the rumbling bass by Tim in Reborn, alternating between heavy moments and gentle passages, sounding absolutely solid from start to finish. Then we’re treated to You Will Never Be Our God, featuring the one and only Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear) as a guest vocalist, making a powerful duo with Ambre supported by her bandmates with their precise riffage, bass lines and beats, followed by the title-track The Wonders Still Awaiting, also showcasing a perfect sync between Ambre and the band’s guitar duo, exhaling epicness and adventure. After that, it’s time for a fast and thrilling Symphonic Metal aria titled Ghosts, with the band’s groovy kitchen formed of Tim and Dimitrio kicking some serious ass, and Your Stories I’ll Remember, a charming ballad with touching lyrics declaimed by Ambre (“I have walked this path with you until you’ve gone on your own / And I hope you’ve heard me still when I have said farewell / You will always be a part of what I have become / And whenever I close my eyes I think back of this time”). Then we have My Curse Is My Redemption, presenting another serene start with stylish background elements, flowing smoothly to the stunning vocals by Ambre.

Illusion Is Their Name is another heavy and thunderous Symphonic Metal beast by Xandria, one of the best songs of the album thanks to its endless electricity, piercing riffs and blast beats, followed by another mesmerizing ballad led by Ambre entitled Paradise, with Marco’s and Rob’s minimalist guitar lines adding an extra touch of darkness to the overall result. Let’s all bang our heads together with Xandria in Mirror of Time, uniting their past, present and future in a fierce and entertaining way, sounding and feeling very detailed and dense until the very last second, and there’s no sign of the band slowing down as they bring forward another full-bodied, intense song titled Scars, with its orchestrations walking hand in hand with Ambre’s passionate vocals. Their second to last aria, titled The Maiden and the Child, embellishes the airwaves with a symphonic and vibrant sonority, with Dimitrio dictating the song’s inspiring pace while their guitars overflow heaviness and potency, before their musical journey ends with Astèria, offering poetic, epic lyrics declaimed by Ambre (“I came from far away to save my soul / To flee this war I have always known / Followed paths away from this / The guns, the suffering / This is not the homeland that we need / Bleeding in vain”) while her bandmates generate a wall of symphonic and orchestral sounds that elevates the album’s impact and reach considerably, or in other words, it’s a fantastic story told by Xandria through their music.

Rich in different styles and genres, the excellent The Wonders Still Awaiting comes close to a movie score, sending its listener on an exciting journey to experience a world of sound never heard before in the universe of Xandria. Hence, you can experience all that by streaming the full album on YouTube and on Spotify, and of course by purchasing your favorite version of the album by clicking HERE or HERE. It’s indeed great to see a band like Xandria getting back on track after such turbulent times in their career, and I’m sure the band would love to hear your thoughts on their new music on Facebook and on Instagram, and don’t forget to also subscribe to their official YouTube channel. Let’s all hope that Xandria have finally reached their desired and, more important than that, stable shape and form, because after seeing what Ambre can do for the band they simply cannot afford to lose her. It would be a total disaster, I might say. Anyway, at least for now Xandria are not only alive and kicking, but their new album will undoubtedly become a reference in the genre, inviting us all to join them in epic adventures only Symphonic Metal can provide us with.

Best moments of the album: You Will Never Be Our God, Ghosts, Illusion Is Their Name and Astèria.

Worst moments of the album: My Curse Is My Redemption.

Released in 2023 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Two Worlds 7:08
2. Reborn 5:13
3. You Will Never Be Our God 5:11
4. The Wonders Still Awaiting 4:59
5. Ghosts 5:26
6. Your Stories I’ll Remember 6:21
7. My Curse Is My Redemption 5:03
8. Illusion Is Their Name 5:07
9. Paradise 5:02
10. Mirror of Time 6:41
11. Scars 4:07
12. The Maiden and the Child 4:54
13. Astèria 9:08

Band members
Ambre Vourvahis – vocals
Marco Heubaum – guitars, keyboards, programming, backing vocals
Rob Klawonn – guitars
Tim Schwarz – bass
Dimitrio Gatsios – drums

Guest musicians
Ralf Scheepers – vocals on “You Will Never Be Our God”
Ally Storch – violin, cello
Johannes Schiefner – uillean pipes
McAlbi – low whistle
Luki Knoebl – orchestral arrangements
Bulgarian National Radio Children’s Choir – choir


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