Album Review – Sovereign Council / World On Fire EP (2023)

This Canadian Symphonic Metal band is back in action with an exciting new EP, written and composed from a place of love and vulnerability.

From headlining performances as well as supporting slots for some of the biggest bands in the metal since their inception in 2012, Ottawa, Canada-based Symphonic Progressive Metal band Sovereign Council is finally back with a brand new EP titled World On Fire, the follow-up to their 2015 full-length album Laniakea. Produced by the band’s own guitarist Joe Moon, mixed and mastered at Silver Wings Studios, and displaying a classy artwork by Martin Trottier, World On Fire was written and composed “from a place of love and vulnerability” according to the band itself, showcasing all the talent by Lisa Thompson on vocals, Joe Moon and Chris Thompson on the guitars, Shaun Vanhooser on bass and Brandon Schneider on drums, being therefore recommended for fans of Delain, Within Temptation and Lacuna Coil, just to name a few.

Gentle and ethereal keys ignite the title-track World On Fire before Lisa begins declaiming the song’s poetic lyrics (“There’s a part in everyone that is broken / All it takes is one moment / To set you back, and relive the pain / Forever chasing the smoke from the remains of what you thought you were / Now all has fallen”) in a great display of modern-day Symphonic Metal; whereas Joe and Chris extract electricity and epicness from their axes in The Wait supported by the classic bass lines by Shaun, all of course embraced by Lisa’s delicate vocals. Then we have Aberration, highly inspired by the current Symphonic Metal scene but also presenting elements from Groove Metal added to their sonority, with Brandon dictating the pace with his pounding drums accompanied by the rumbling bass by Shaun. Supported by the backing vocals by Joe, Lisa once again distills her serene vocal lines in Breathe You In, with their guitars sounding extremely melodious while at the same time bringing heaviness to their music in a solid depiction of Modern Melodic Metal; and lastly, the band delivers a more visceral, in-your-face sound in Of The Ashes, with Lisa’s vocals walking hand in hand with the drums by Brandon, putting a stylish ending to the album while living up to the legacy of bands like Xandria and Within Temptation.

“This is the first release for us since we decided to alter our lineup and adjust our musical trajectory. We feel that the sound we have created here is still at its core very ‘Sovereign Council’ but has matured and developed into something greater. We are extremely proud of this new sound and cannot wait to see how people respond to it. We have another set of songs nearly completed as well; these new songs continue our new direction and add another new edge as well as a heavier feel. You’ll have to stick around for the next release to find out what that edge is,” commented the band about their new EP, and you can show all your support to them by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to their YouTube channel, by streaming their music on Spotify, and of course by purchasing World On Fire from their own BandCamp page, as well as from Apple Music. Furthermore, this is pure Canadian metal music, made entirely by Canadians (under what’s called MAPL), which means if you want to know how the Canadian metal scene is, you should definitely take a listen at the new album by Sovereign Council, a band that proudly carries the flag of heavy music wherever they go and that’s moving towards a very interesting direction with their new release.

Best moments of the album: World On Fire and Of The Ashes.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2023 Independent

Track listing
1. World On Fire 4:43
2. The Wait 4:24
3. Aberration 4:00
4. Breathe You In 3:34
5. Of The Ashes 4:13

Band members
Lisa Thompson – lead vocals
Joe Moon – lead guitars, backing vocals
Chris Thompson – rhythm guitars
Shaun Vanhooser – bass
Brandon Schneider – drums

Album Review – The Hypothesis / Origin (2016)

A complete lineup change and almost four years to conclude an album? In the case of these Finnish metallers, it was definitely worth the wait.

Rating4

The_Hypothesis_cover_2400After what happened with Guns N’ Roses and their controversial album Chinese Democracy (2008), whenever a band suffers significant lineup changes and takes a good amount of time to release an album, people get really skeptical about the final result. Fortunately, that’s not the case with Finnish Modern Melodic Metal band The Hypothesis, who after a complete change in their lineup and four years locked in the middle of a dark forest of Viitasaari, in Central Finland, are finally releasing their debut full-length album, entitled Origin, an excellent display of modern and melodic heavy music.

Formed in the city of Kouvola, Finland in 2009, but currently based about 130km to the southwest of that, in the capital Helsinki, The Hypothesis have already built a solid reputation in Melodic Death Metal, playing in renowned festivals such as Nummirock and Qstock, and sharing the stage with names like Swallow The Sun, Scar Symmetry, Wolfheart and Before The Dawn. And that’s after having released only one EP, named Nightshade, back in 2010. And now, without further ado, it’s time to hit play and start moshing with those Finnish metallers.

Right from the first few notes in Shades to Escape, you’ll notice how much they love futuristic keyboard noises, providing a sound that’s very harmonious and polished as usual, but always as violent as this type of music demands. In addition, frontman Antti Seppälä offers sharp and harsh growls nicely complemented by some clean vocals to give more balance to the song, with the powerful riffs and solos by both guitarists Juuso Turkki and Asko Sartanen filling all the spaces left. Leak, an old school Melodic Death Metal with hints of Metalcore, sounds less experimental and a lot heavier and more vicious, with the precise drumming by Waltteri Väyrynen enhancing the electricity found in the music; while End of Your Days somehow “takes off” from where the opening track stopped, with Antti going on with his furious screams and both guitars blasting some awesome riffs, all supported by the song’s background keyboards and the intricate bass lines by Markku “Neissu” Ruuskanen.

The_Hypothesis_promopic_largeOnce again exhibiting a futuristic and metallic aura, Scarface is a decent composition that unfortunately doesn’t live up to the energy found throughout the rest of the album, with its rhythm sounding a bit confusing (or maybe too progressive compared to what the other songs offer). Exit puts the band back on track with its high level of violence and nonstop action, boosted by an amazing guitar solo by guest musician Daniel Freyberg. Moreover, Markku can’t stop pounding his thunderous strings in this modern and melodic Death Metal chant tailored for fans of the genre, and almost immediately they connect it to Atonement, another song presenting potent riffs and high-end solos by Juuso and Asko where Antti showcases some clean vocals before going back to his demonic mode.

In Eye for an Eye, the rhythmic beats by Waltteri craft the perfect sonic tornado for Antti to fire desperate and harsh vocal lines in the best song of the album. This is how a Melodic Death Metal band should always add progressive elements to their musicality, not to mention its yet again flawless keyboard notes. On the other hand, Weak Story, despite its instrumental pieces being as good as the rest of the album (in special its guitar solos), brings forward out-of-place clean vocals that sound taken from a generic Metalcore song. And closing the album we have the interesting instrumental song Second Chance, where the modern elements added to its polished production turn it into a nice experimental voyage in Melodic Death Metal. Besides, you can pretend to be Antti and add your own lyrics and vocals to it, how about that? Or you can simply relax and relish the beautiful guitar riffs and rumbling bass lines offered by the band during the whole song as well.

This up-and-coming band from Finland can be found on Facebook and on YouTube, and you can purchase Origin at the Inverse Records’ webshop, on iTunes or on Amazon. It might have taken almost four years for The Hypothesis to conclude their first full-length record, but after listening to it you’ll realize it was definitely worth the wait thanks to all the energy and passion those guys put into the making of the album.

Best moments of the album: Leak, Exit and Eye for an Eye.

Worst moments of the album: Scarface and Weak Story.

Released in 2016 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Shades to Escape 4:20
2. Leak 4:25
3. End of Your Days 4:47
4. Scarface 3:51
5. Exit 3:34
6. Atonement 3:28
7. Eye for an Eye 4:46
8. Weak Story 4:03
9. Second Chance (Instrumental) 4:43

Band members
Antti Seppälä – vocals
Juuso Turkki – guitar
Asko Sartanen – guitar
Markku “Neissu” Ruuskanen – bass
Waltteri Väyrynen – drums

Guest musician
Daniel Freyberg – guitar solo on “Exit”