Album Review – Gallia / Obscura (2022)

Enjoy this breathtaking album of Symphonic Metal infused with sheer epicness and storytelling, masterfully crafted by an up-and-coming four-headed outfit from Belgium.

Creating Symphonic Metal with an amount of epicness and storytelling that would fit a dark fantasy trilogy on the big screen, leading to what the band itself likes to call “Cinematic Metal”, Stevoort, Belgium-based four-headed outfit Gallia is unleashing upon humanity their first full-length opus, entitled Obscura, building on the story that was set in place by their 2019 EP Everflame, which was about the band’s fight against the dark. Produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by Yarne Heylen at Project Zero Studio and displaying a beautiful artwork by Gogo Melone, Obscura tells the story of the band finishing their duty with the Everflame and returning to a life of freedom, and finding a different world than the one they left behind, presenting noticeable influences from Symphonic Metal bands such as Nightwish, Epica and Xandria while at the same time the theatricality of big composers such as Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman, all meticulously crafted by frontwoman Elyn Vandenwyngaert, guitarist Yannick Maris, bassist Laurens Vandebroek and drummer Ties Jehoul.

The clock is ticking in the intro Aperture, inviting us all to join Gallia in their cinematic, metallic journey to the sound of the heavy and melodic Return of Time, already starting in full force to the massive drums by Ties in a beyond thrilling exhibit of modern-day Symphonic Metal, with Elyn stealing the spotlight with her powerful voice. The fantastic Blackout Queen feels like the soundtrack to an epic movie, with Laurens kicking some serious ass armed with his thunderous bass while Yannick brings sheer Heavy Metal awesomeness to the sound through his sharp riffs, flowing into the whimsical Mirage, starting in an enfolding way to the sound of the piano before evolving into a very theatrical composition where Ties pounds his drums in a classy manner. Then an eerie, wicked intro suddenly morphs into another Metal Opera titled Reflection, showcasing the incendiary riffs by Yannick intertwined with a dark and beautiful vocal performance by Elyn; whereas Path of the Nomad is even more imposing, epic and dense than its predecessors, bringing forward an amazing job done by all band members and consequently taking the song to a whole new level of magic, with of course Elyn being flawless on vocals.

Then adding elements from Folk Metal to their core sonority, the band delivers the symphonic interlude Free Me, setting the stage for Spirit of the Sea, showcasing a catchy chorus (“Spirit of the Sea, hear my plea, hear my plea / The balance of my life lies in the hands of thee / You decide my destiny / Hear my plea, oh Spirit of the Sea / Let me return to land and tree / I call to you: let me be free”) and a mesmerizing pace and atmosphere; whereas guided by the classic, hammering drums by Ties the band offers our ears the also melodic and vibrant Chaos, with its background elements sounding absolutely majestic. In Euphoria we’re treated to poetic lyrics declaimed by Elyn (“The road is long / but our destiny is straight ahead / We march in faith and think of lands / that we have left”) amidst a multi-layered, melodic Symphonic Metal feast, and their second to last lecture in symphony and heavy music comes in the form of Tears of Gold, presenting over seven minutes of dark passages, rumbling bass lines and crushing riffs. Lastly, it’s time for Eryn to shine on vocals one final time in the stunning ballad New World, growing in intensity to the stylish riffs by Yannick until reaching a climatic, ethereal finale.

In summary, Obscura is one of those musical voyages that make Symphonic Metal so interesting and thrilling, thanks of course to the extreme focus and hard work invested in the making of the album by the talented members of Gallia, positioning them as one of the must-listen names of the current scene. Having said that, in order to support Elyn and the boys and fuel their inner fire to keep delivering first-class music to all of us, let’s all follow them on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and so on, subscribe to their official YouTube channel and stream more of their music on Spotify, and of course grab a copy of Obscura from the band’s own BandCamp page sooner than you can say “Cinematic Metal”. Heavy music cannot get any more theatrical than what Gallia have to offer us in their new album, leaving us eager for the next chapter in their promising path of heavy music infused with a huge dosage of fantasy.

Best moments of the album: Blackout Queen, Path of the Nomad and Chaos.

Worst moments of the album: Mirage.

Released in 2022 Independent

Track listing
1. Aperture 1:19
2. Return of Time 4:44
3. Blackout Queen 3:34
4. Mirage 4:42
5. Reflection 5:05
6. Path of the Nomad 4:13
7. Free Me 2:35
8. Spirit of the Sea 4:04
9. Chaos 4:21
10. Euphoria 4:13
11. Tears of Gold 7:32
12. New World 5:13

Band members
Elyn Vandenwyngaert – vocals
Yannick Maris – guitars
Laurens Vandebroek – bass
Ties Jehoul – drums

Album Review – Walk In Darkness / On The Road To Babylon (2020)

Walk in darkness on the road to Babylon together with one of the newest names of the Italian Symphonic Metal scene to the sound of their third full-length album.

Born in 2015 as a Gothic Metal project with many influences by guitarist, composer and lyricist Shaman, Italian Symphonic Gothic Metal outfit Walk In Darkness has just released their third full-length opus, entitled On The Road To Babylon, the follow up to their critically acclaimed 2018 album Welcome to the New World. Recorded, mixed and mastered at Virus Recording Studio by Alessandro Guasconi, and portraying a stunning artwork by Brazilian artist Carlos Fides (Artside Studio), On The Road To Babylon presents the band’s captivating atmospheres from their previous efforts, dragging the listener to another dimension as in a psychedelic and shamanic journey through time, a dreamlike journey but only in appearance as the dream is lucid and plausible. Constantly evolving, albeit having originally approached the Gothic Metal genre, the band diverged from its primeval sound to more original and unpredictable paths following the emotional and psychedelic component of music, with their brand new album perfectly representing that evolution in their musicality through the years.

Currently comprised of the aforementioned Shaman together with the talented frontwoman Nicoletta Rosellini (from Kalidia), guitarist Flaming Jack, keyboardist Tio Frank, bassist Monk Key and drummer Arcanus, Walk In Darkness are on fire throughout the entire album, offering us fans a collection of hymns to the sublime beauty of humanity that recedes and declines, dramatically mortal and fleeting but unattainable in its immense poetry. “On the Road to Babylon is a milestone in our endless musical research and evolution, almost like a prophecy and a warning to a world imploding due to pandemic crisis, self-isolation and trans-humanity. Mankind is perpetually on the road to Babylon and once again we are awaiting trial. Our intention is to write original songs with emotional and intense vocal parts combined with atmospheric and heavy music. The album is a concept formed by 9 songs, each of which is surprising and irrepressible because of the melodic and rhythmic solutions, the sweet and strong vocals as well as the deep and engaging lyrics. We directed an attentive gaze to the present and future world, analyzing and thinking about it, and we realized this album with incredible and moving atmospheres. We hope that every human being can listen to this at least once during lifetime on the way to Babylon,” commented Shaman about their newborn opus.

Whimsical keys permeate the air in the gorgeous opening track The Sound Of Rain, morphing into a classic Symphonic Metal feast led by the crushing beats by Arcanus while Nicoletta and guest Emiliano Pasquinelli make a dynamic vocal duo with their respective clean lines and visceral roars, and after such imposing start it’s time for the title-track On The Road To Babylon, starting in a melancholic and dark manner before the scorching riffs by Shaman and Flaming Jack, supported by the rumbling bass by Monk Key, fill out every single empty space in the music, sounding epic and touching until its very last second. Then inspired by the music by renowned European Symphonic Metal bands like Epica, Xandria, Delain and Beyond the Black, Walk On The Sky brings forward another round of slashing riffs, pounding drums and guttural growling, all embraced by Nicoletta’s angelical performance, whereas futuristic elements are thoroughly inserted in their classic sonority in On The Moon Or On Mars, with the keys by Tio Frank bringing a touch of finesse to the overall result, feeling like a hybrid of Progressive Rock and a Metal Opera.

A lot more inclined to old school Gothic Metal, Nothing showcases pensive words declaimed by the charming Nicoletta (“We can see / ships leaving for the stars / along the lines of space-time, / defying the laws of gravity / Only memories / are left in the cone of light / among floating plastic islands / in post-reality”), while in In The Mists Of Time the band enhances their heaviness and epicness considerably, with Nicoletta being amazingly supported by the powerful riffage by Shaman and Flaming Jack. Furthermore, it’s quite easy to visualize their fans hanging their lighters high while singing it together with the band during their live concerts. Then featuring guest vocalist Elisabetta Bettini, the band fires the also extremely melodic and passionate My Restless Wings, where Tio Frank, Mon Key and Arcanus generate a dense base perfect for the band’s guitar duo to shine with their soulful riffs; followed by Time To Rise, one of the first singles of the album, bringing forward the band’s characteristic romance, serenity and an embracing atmosphere while flowing smoothly until the very end and sounding as imposing as good Symphonic Gothic Metal always demands. Lastly, closing the album we have the groovy Critical System Failure, where the heaviness brought forth by Monk Key with his bass creates a gorgeous paradox with the gentle vocals by Nicoletta, resulting in a hypnotizing tune that will leave you eager for more of their music.

The talented metallers from Walk In Darkness are waiting for you to (guess what?) walk in darkness together with them on the road to Babylon, and in order to do that go check what they’re up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, listen to more of their stylish music on Spotify, and of course purchase On The Road To Babylon from their own BandCamp page or from Apple Music, among other locations. Italy is a well-known source of some of the best Symphonic Metal bands in the entire world, and now with Walk In Darkness solidifying their name with a triumvirate of high-end albums we can rest assured not only the country will remain on top of the “symphonic” food chain, but also that it won’t take long before Nicoletta, Shaman & Co. take your city by storm with their delicate and powerful music wherever you are.

Best moments of the album: On The Road To Babylon, On The Moon Or On Mars and In The Mists Of Time.

Worst moments of the album: Nothing.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. The Sound Of Rain 5:24
2. On The Road To Babylon 6:22
3. Walk On The Sky 4:40
4. On The Moon Or On Mars 4:47
5. Nothing 5:31
6. In The Mists Of Time 5:24
7. My Restless Wings 5:19
8. Time To Rise 5:35
9. Critical System Failure 4:06

Band members
Nicoletta Rosellini – vocals
Shaman – guitars
Flaming Jack – guitars
Tio Frank – keyboards
Monk Key – bass
Arcanus – drums

Guest musicians
Emiliano Pasquinelli – harsh vocals
Elisabetta Bettini – additional vocals on “My Restless Wings”

Album Review – Winter’s Verge / The Ballad of James Tig (2020)

One of Cyprus’ most successful metal bands returns with their most ambitious project to date, telling the story of a man who lost his family at sea seeking revenge against a sea monster.

One of Cyprus’ most successful metal bands of all time, Nicosia-based Symphonic Power Metal act Winter’s Verge has been on a roll since their inception in 2005, having released so far four studio albums and three EP’s, and building a strong reputation as one of the most exciting live acts in Cyprus with a powerful blend of Epic, Melodic and Symphonic Metal. Currently comprised of George Charalambous on vocals, Deniel Pavlovsky and Savvas Parperi on the guitars, Miguel Trapezaris on bass, Stavry Michael on keyboards and Danny Koullis Georgiou Conway on drums, Winter’s Verge’s music is highly conceptual and takes place within a mythological realm called Tiberon, with all songs and lyrics allowing fans to explore the themes, characters and locations for their own interpretation. Now in 2020, after three years in the making, the band is ready to stun us all once again with The Ballad of James Tig, their fifth full-length opus and their most ambitious projects to date, telling the story of James Tig, a man who lost his family at sea when he was a young boy and had set his life-long dream to find the legendary Killagorak, a sea monster who he believes was what killed his family when he was very young, therefore seeking revenge.

With a concept and lyrics by renowned local author and playwright Frixos Masouras, featuring a classic artwork designed by George Vasiliou, mixed and produced by vocalist George Charalambous himself, mastered by George Eracleous at Oneirism Studios, and featuring guest vocalist Teodora Stoyanova Freya (known for her work with Bulgarian Viking Metal band Freija and with a metal project called Magic of the North) playing the part of Nina in the story, The Ballad of James Tig is not just another concept storyline, but a much bolder project by Winter’s Verge with a huge sounding scope and symphonic sound, cementing the band’s name as one of the most exciting and innovative metal bands from the entire Eastern Mediterranean region.

Get ready to embark on a musical voyage together with Winter’s Verge, beginning with the symphonic and serene opening aria It Begins, with George taking the lead with his soulful vocals while his bandmates embellish the airwaves with their respective instruments, whereas the keys by Stavry and all background orchestrations are soon joined by the pounding Power Metal drums by Danny in the heavier and faster A Thousand Souls, where the band’s guitar duo Deniel and Savvas are on fire with their riffs and solos, also presenting tons of breaks and variations to make things even more impactful. Sounding very theatrical from the very first second, Dead Reckoning is a lot more symphonic than metallic, which obviously means the focus is on its melody rather than its heaviness, while George does a great job once again on vocals, and featuring Teodora as a guest vocalist for the first time we have the charming and enfolding Timeless, with the delicate piano notes by Stavry adding an extra touch of finesse to this beautiful ballad by Winter’s Verge.

Killagorak (yes, the monster itself) is a two-minute imposing, epic interlude that will embrace you and prepare your senses for the breathtaking I Accept, starting in full force spearheaded by Danny and his intricate and powerful beats while Deniel and Savvas keep slashing their strings in great fashion, once again with Teodora and George making a dynamic vocal duo for our total delight. Then we have Blood on the Foam, a pirate-inspired Metal Opera where the Progressive Power Metal played by Winter’s Verge is flawlessly intertwined with pure symphonic passages, not to mention how thunderous the bass jabs by Miguel and the drums by Danny sound; and we’re treated to one final round of Teodora’s gorgeous, operatic vocals in The Sea, offering our ears eight minutes of dark passages, introspective vocals and crushing riffs. In the end, you’ll feel absolutely mesmerized by such detailed and thrilling song, before The Ballad of James Tig, a true ballad of the seas, closes the album on a high note, with its semi-acoustic guitars and tribal beats permeating the air and putting a climatic and melancholic conclusion to the story told by Winter’s Verge.

You can get in touch with such distinguished band on Facebook and subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their stylish music and official videos, but of course in order to show your utmost support to underground Symphonic Metal you should definitely purchase The Ballad of James Tig from your favorite retailer such as Nuclear Blast, Season of Mist, EMP, Apple Music and Amazon, as well as stream the album in full on Spotify as soon as it’s released in the coming weeks. It’s truly mesmerizing the way Winter’s Verge told the tale of James Tig in their new album, uniting music and storytelling in a compelling way and, above all that, providing us fans of heavy music a very good reason to sail the unruly waters of the mythological realm if Tiberon together with James Tig himself, and obviously with our six talented Cypriot metallers.

Best moments of the album: A Thousand Souls, I Accept and The Sea.

Worst moments of the album: Dead Reckoning.

Released in 2020 Pride & Joy Music

Track listing
1. It Begins 6:57
2. A Thousand Souls 4:57
3. Dead Reckoning 4:41
4. Timeless 6:57
5. Killagorak 2:11
6. I Accept 5:03
7. Blood on the Foam 6:06
8. The Sea 7:59
9. The Ballad of James Tig 4:07

Band members
George Charalambous – vocals
Deniel Pavlovsky – guitars
Savvas Parperi – guitars
Miguel Trapezaris – bass
Stavry Michael – keyboards
Danny Koullis Georgiou Conway – drums

Guest musician
Teodora Stoyanova Freya – female vocals on “Timeless”, “I Accept” and “The Sea”

Album Review – Velaverante / My Dark Images EP (2015)

Try listening to the Symphonic Gothic Metal by this up-and-coming Russian band with your eyes blindfolded. You will love the experience.

Rating4

My_Dark_Images_coverIn case you don’t know (well, I’m pretty sure you don’t, and there’s nothing wrong with that), the Latin word “velaverunt” means “blindfolded”. For instance, you can find that word in the Bible, like in Lucas 22:64, “et velaverunt eum et percutiebant faciem eius et interrogabant eum dicentes prophetiza quis est qui te percussit?”, which in English means “and when they had blindfolded him, and smote him on the face, and asked him, saying: Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?” However, from now on Velaverante also means high-quality Symphonic Gothic Metal brought forth by this passionate band from the city of Kirov, Russia, located around 950km from the capital Moscow.

And when you listen to their debut EP, the excellent My Dark Images, you’ll perfectly understand why I’m saying that about Velaverante. For a top to bottom independent band, the attention they paid to all details, including the sound production and mixing, their outfits and the album art, is truly remarkable. Even minor details like the blindfolds that appear on the artwork of My Dark Images and on some of their promotional pictures prove how much they care about their creation, and of course, that’s beyond good for everyone who takes a listen at Velaverante.

velaveranteThat high level of professionalism is latent in the first track of the EP, Too Late, where the band offers the listener a very symphonic sounding similar to what Nightwish and Epica have mastered doing, but with the melancholic atmosphere found in Black and Doom Metal. The keyboards by Max Seleznyov and the robust operatic vocals by Anna Egorova keep the music ominous and dark, whilst drummer Irina Kropotova and guitarist Gleb Uraev seem more inspired by old school Gothic Metal the likes of Tristania. The second track, Insomnia, begins as obscure as the previous one, once again showcasing a superb performance by Anna on vocals, especially during the song’s captivating chorus. It’s unquestionably a beautiful Gothic Metal tune for fans of the dark side of music.

In my humble opinion, the best of the four tracks is Jailed, where a smooth piano intro is suddenly surrounded by the band’s strong and mournful notes, with highlights to all the emotion found on vocals (yet again with an awesome chorus). Not only that, its somber rhythm is as amazing as the biggest dark classics from Norwegian and British Gothic music, with Max boosting the band’s energy with his keyboard notes. And lastly, we have the most symphonic of all tracks, Chained No More, with deeper riffs and stronger beats, almost like a Metal Opera mainly due to the vocal performance by Anna blended with interesting medieval/epic notes.

Unfortunately, My Dark Images has only 15 minutes of music, making us eager for more of their music in the form of a possible full-length album in a not-so-distant future. In the meantime, let’s all go check their Facebook page, VK profile, YouTube channel (where you can find some excellent live videos by the band), and more important than all that, listen to their profound and skillfully engendered music on their official SoundCloud page. And if you have the guts to appreciate My Dark Images blindfolded, amplifying your sense of hearing to a whole new level, do not think twice and just go do it.

Best moments of the album: Jailed.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Independent

Track listing
1. Too Late 4:20
2. Insomnia 3:10
3. Jailed 4:18
4. Chained No More 3:34

Band members
Anna Egorova – vocals
Gleb Uraev – guitar
Oleg Starikov – bass
Max Seleznyov – keyboards
Irina Kropotova – drums

Album Review – Blind Guardian / Beyond The Red Mirror (2015)

Are you ready to explore what’s beyond “The Red Mirror” with one of the most influential Power Metal bands of all time?

Rating4

blind guardian_btrmBeyond The Red Mirror, the tenth studio album by German Power Metal pioneers Blind Guardian, their first since 2010’s At the Edge of Time (the longest gap between two studio albums in their career) and the first without bassist Oliver Holzwarth since their finest work to date, 1995’s Imaginations from the Other Side, might not be a true masterpiece, but it’s good enough to keep those Teutonic veterans going and also a perfect example of how to effectively combine metal music with a great concept, creating what some people like to call a “Metal Opera”.

Blind Guardian’s iconic lead singer Hansi Kürsch has already explained himself this album is a sequel to Imaginations from the Other Side: the two worlds have changed dramatically for the worse since then with only one gate left now between them, The Red Mirror, with the storyline revolving around the young protagonist we first met in the 1995’s classics “Bright Eyes” and “And the Story Ends”. Add to that the fact that three different classical choirs (from Czech Republic, Hungary and the United States) and two grand orchestras, each featuring 90 musicians, are part of the album, and you can imagine how grandiose the musicality contained in Beyond The Red Mirror is.

blind guardianThe almost 10-minute epic track The Ninth Wave, with its choir intro, kicks off the album proving once again Hansi’s voice is not only unique but also so powerful it’s impossible not to follow his vocal lines in their entirety. Although I loved its harmony and storyline, it lacks a little heaviness, making it more Metal Opera than Power Metal per se. Twilight Of The Gods sounds a lot more traditional than the opening track, especially its fast drums and guitar riffs and solos. Moreover, Hansi guides the rhythm here thanks in part to the song’s awesome straightforward lyrics (“Witness the twilight of the gods / Will they ever return / A storm will take us / And then wipe us out / There’s no retreat”).

The most interesting aspect in Prophecies, which despite not being outstanding at least maintains the album at a decent level, is how well we can understand each and every word Hansi pronounces, even when he does his stronger/harsher vocals; while At The Edge Of Time, with its eerie intro and a more melancholic atmosphere, doesn’t really decide if it’s a metallic or a symphonic song, hurting the final result. On the other hand, Ashes Of Eternity is the true Blind Guardian we all have learned to love, with its exciting vocal lines and beautiful guitar solos by André Olbrich making it one of the top moments of the album. Keeping up with this awesomeness we have The Holy Grail, the perfect soundtrack in the quest for the Holy Grail itself where not even a single second is boring or out of place. Moreover, the top-notch Power Metal drumming by Frederik Ehmke will definitely sound amazing live.

blind guardian_btrm deluxe

Beyond The Red Mirror Limited Edition Digipak/Earbook Deluxe

The Throne is another symphonic-centered tune with lots of elements from traditional Blind Guardian, with highlights to the great job done by André Olbrich with his inspired solos once again. The following track, the dark Sacred Mind, showcases solid instrumental lines despite not being very creative, albeit it gets a little tiring after a while; and the piano ballad Miracle Machine focuses on a superb vocal performance by Hansi. Closing the regular version of the album we have another imposing progressive 9-minute song, Grand Parade, which in my opinion gets too symphonic sometimes, even knowing it was meant to be this way. In other words, it’s not a bad song, but it won’t probably work really well live nor become a classic or anything like that. Furthermore, the special versions of Beyond The Red Mirror come with an amazing bonus track, Distant Memories, a melodic and symphonic old school semi-ballad curiously inserted in the middle of the album (as track number 6) instead of at the end; and if you purchase the earbook there’s another Power Metal bonus track for you entitled Doom.

In summary, although some moments in Beyond The Red Mirror lack more intensity and power, there are lots of excellent songs, with a couple of them deserving a 5 out of 5 so amazing they are, augmented by all the majestic orchestral passages perfectly inserted amidst the band’s unmatched Power Metal. Some fans will end up comparing it to Imaginations from the Other Side due to the existing connection between the two albums, but I prefer to keep them separate and enjoy their own elements and musicality one at a time. Although we all know there’s never going to be another Imaginations from the Other Side, we can rest assured Blind Guardian is still capable of delivering Power Metal at its finest like in Beyond The Red Mirror, and that’s the bottom line. With that said, are you ready to explore what’s beyond “The Red Mirror”?

Best moments of the album: Twilight Of The Gods, Ashes Of Eternity, The Holy Grail and the bonus track Distant Memories.

Worst moments of the album: At The Edge Of Time, Sacred Mind and Grand Parade.

Released in 2015 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. The Ninth Wave 9:27
2. Twilight of the Gods 4:49
3. Prophecies 5:24
4. At the Edge of Time 6:53
5. Ashes of Eternity 5:38
7. The Holy Grail 6:02
8. The Throne 7:53
9. Sacred Mind 6:21
10. Miracle Machine 3:02
11. Grand Parade 9:27

Limited Edition Digipak Bonus Track
6. Distant Memories 5:51

Earbook Bonus Track
12. Doom 5:51

Band members
Hansi Kürsch – lead and backing vocals
André Olbrich – lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars
Marcus Siepen – rhythm guitar
Frederik Ehmke – drums, percussion

Additional musician
Barend Courbois – bass guitar

Album Review – Tarja / Colours in the Dark (2013)

While Nightwish unfortunately perishes day after day without a decent singer, Tarja keeps providing us some excellent heavy music with her strong solo career.

Rating4

Tarja_Colours-In-The-Dark_StandardWhen Tarja Turunen (the prettiest female singer in the world!) left Nightwish a few years ago, everybody thought she was over in the world of heavy music (she even said so in some interviews). Tuomas Holopainen is a very talented and creative musician, and without him nobody knew how she would be able to survive. Well, today I guess it’s the exact opposite: Tarja has a very solid solo career, while Tuomas is completely lost with his band due to his gigantic ego. And now once again Tarja releases a very good album full of melody, consolidating her as one of the most important female voices in Heavy Metal of all time.

Victim of Ritual, the opening track, is a kind of “Metal Opera” that joins Tarja’s beautiful voice, a nice rhythm, and an interesting mix of different sounds. I love the chorus when she sings victim of rrrrrrrrrritual! Then comes 500 Letters, a regular song from Tarja with nothing new to show us. The next song, Lucid Dreamer, is a good example of what she can do with her voice, while in Never Enough she gives her special Nordic ingredient to it by starting with the words y, ka, ko, ne! This is our famous one, two, three, four, but in Finnish, and I must say a nice start to one of the best songs of the album, followed by a track called Mystique Voyage, a good ballad totally focused on her unique voice.

Tarja_Colours-In-The-DarkThe next track is a cover song: I listened to the original version from Peter Gabriel for the song Darkness, and I think Tarja’s version is very similar to it. It’s good, but not even close to the quality of her version for Alice Cooper’s Poison. Anyway, I would really enjoy seeing Peter and Tarja doing a duet for Darkness live someday! Deliverance is just another one of Tarja’s typical ballads, while Neverlight has that type of heavy riff I was expecting to find more in the rest of the songs. The album ends with another nice ballad, Until Silence, and the song Medusa, which in my opinion is the most beautiful song from Colours in the Dark.

Regarding the musicians, it’s always good to listen to Mike Terrana. He is amazing on drums even when he’s not playing at full speed. The other band members do a good job too: nothing extraordinary, though, but enough for what Tarja needs. The front cover is beautiful, of course, as it has Tarja on it! and not only that, it has a psychedelic touch that makes it very interesting for album art lovers.

To sum up, Colours in the Dark is not as original as My Winter Storm, which is my favorite Tarja album, but it’s a good work worth buying if you enjoy heavy music with a female voice, just not so heavy as Arch Enemy or The Agonist. And did anybody notice how Tarja is getting more and more beautiful year after year? I hope she comes to Canada for a full tour soon.

Best moments of the album: The songs Victim of Ritual, Never Enough, Neverlight and Medusa.

Worst moments of the album: The keyboards and piano seem to be more important than the guitar, which is not that bad, but I feel there’s a lack of good riffs and solos in the whole album that could have given more punch to it.

Released in 2013 earMUSIC

Track listing
1. Victim of Ritual 5:54
2. 500 Letters 4:22
3. Lucid Dreamer 7:28
4. Never Enough 5:20
5. Mystique Voyage 7:14
6. Darkness 5:38
7. Deliverance 7:27
8. Neverlight 4:33
9. Until Silence 5:03
10. Medusa (feat. Justin Furstenfeld) 8:12

iTunes edition bonus tracks
11. Neverlight (Full Orchestral Version)
12. Until Silence (Orchestral Version)

Band members
Tarja Turunen – Lead vocals and piano
Alex Scholpp, Julian Barrett – Guitar
Kevin Chown, Doug Wimbish – Bass guitar
Christian Kretschmar – Keyboards
Mike Terrana – Drums
Max Lilja – Cello