Silent Opera: Immortal Beauty

Immortal Beauty from Italian symphonic metal band Silent Opera is an epic and vibrant album that sweeps one up in its grandeur and expansive sounds. The release offers a mix of the intimate and a more general theatrical wrapping for the ear which ebbs and flows to great effect, making it an album that whether it hits the right spot for you or not makes it one that is constantly intriguing and persistently provoking the emotions.

Formed in early 2010 Silent Opera consisting of Lady Victoria (lead singer), Rain (guitars), Alexandre (bass) and Shadow (drums) took no time in refining their sound with live shows before moving on to record this their debut album. Their symphonic/gothic sound carries the power and grace of the likes of Within Temptation and Nightwish but with an added operatic and theatrical flourish that sets them apart. With a themed life to it based around four immortals and their individual stories the album captures the imagination with ease even if at times the immediacy of some tracks are lost in others.

The first notable element of the sound is the vocals of Lady Victoria. She has an operatic skill and power that can stir the blood and ignite the senses but at times it also seems and feels out of place with the music and there is a struggle going on between her and the music surrounding her. This is not a destructive issue but it is an aspect that one feels need to be better defined to get a positively strong attention the band and she deserves, against that though her delivery gives certain songs a depth and pomp that fits wonderfully within the immortal/of the gods premise. Personally when she restrains and controls fully her obvious talent and skill the songs flow and capture the imagination much better but as always it is only a personal view.

Musically the band hit the mark consistently from the opening heart beat and ambient keys of Mask Manor and its breaking magnific presence through to the epic and imposing closer The Silent Opera. There is a vibrancy and thoughtful craft to the sounds that envelope and please throughout. The starter sets up the journey of the album perfectly and like the album on the whole, grabs warm attention and an eager ear.

The album first truly takes a heightened grip with Morningstar, a graceful and easy flowing majestic song. With the keys pushing towards the skies the guitars and bass rile up the senses with a strong and well defined play alongside attentive riffs whilst the drums take a firm if undemanding grip. The vocals are perfect for the enlightened sounds and combined there is a feel of lofty intentions and emotions swirling around the ear.

Further highlights include the piano led beauty of Farewell a song that glistens with passion, Always With You with the addition of great male vocals to add a bite and imposing might to the flowing power, and Lilium, a track that offers a noble and touching caress upon the senses. These go to making Immortal Beauty an album that always gives the ear something to be engaged by but it is when the band strike with a  heightened intensity that they fully connect. Second song Chapters with its thumping and momentous almost industrial symphonic metal prowling suggests the band has a tougher edge and it is only the vocals that sadly deflect from the track and its impressive sterner tread upon the ear but with Your Muse the band drip intensity and aggressive energy. Opening on Rammstein like male growling and industrial blistering riffs the song stomps across and defiantly pounces upon the senses. Electronic niggling lines the song giving it an eager light against the muscular and intimidating rhythms and flexing riffs. The song is a gem, Lady Victoria offering her best diverse vocals to temper the aggressive male accosting.

Immortal Beauty is a fine album that satisfies much more than it misses the spot. Silent Opera are a band to watch closely as they surely evolve and grow into something even more impressive.

www.facebook.com/Silentoperaitaly

RingMaster 11/03/2012

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Nemesea – The Quiet Resistance

The Quiet Resistance from Dutch rock band Nemesea is a bit of a conundrum, on one hand it is a vibrant well written and realised collection of electro pop/symphonic rock tunes but on the other leaves the distinct thought that the band could have found and given even more to place the album as a must have contender. There is almost a sense of being short changed on the release and though that is being maybe over critical the feeling is there, The Quiet Resistance being a good strong release but a certain lost opportunity to create something really special.

Formed in 2002 by vocalist Manda Ophuis and guitarist Hendrik Jan de Jong later joined by bassist Sonny Onderwater and Frank van der Star on drums, the quartet from Groningen found eager attention with their 2004 debut album Mana and from successful extensive tours. Second album In Control appeared in 2007 after the band signed up at sellaband.com to become one of the sites notable successes. This year saw the band sign with Napalm Records and the imminent release of The Quiet Resistance. 

Drawing on the best elements of their previous releases The Quiet Resistance exudes a stronger and more aggressive sound whilst still retaining the immense melodic pop and rock sound. Nemesea is certainly not going to numb senses and break down walls with their intensity but there is a certain shift to firmer and more imposing riffs and energy alongside the harmonics and graceful sounds. There is also a deliberate move into more electro pop flavours which though varied in depth from song to song make the release even more accessible to a wider array of ears. Ophuis is as ever impressive with her voice and delivery and the focal point on most tracks with the music playing for her at times rather than with her. This is not exactly a criticism as it works well and the band creating their sound from an Evanescence/ Within Temptation type mix… not exactly though it does feel like it restricts the bands hinted real identity to fully shine.

Before continuing it should be noted that despite what is written here the album was fully enjoyed and will happily be listened too again and again, thus the puzzle and feelings of a missed chance to create something truly unique as glimpsed constantly within the album’s walls by some fine moments. It is no coincidence that the truly inspired and strongest tracks are the ones where the band step away from the pop/rock Evanescence flavoured songs which the band have mastered wonderfully with songs like the glorious ‘Afterlife’, the simple and effective grace of ballad ‘I Live’, and ‘Say’ with its deep dark bass twang and striking guitars recalling a Linkin Park/Evanescence link up. Good enjoyable songs that play with ease just without enflaming or inspiring the senses.

It is the tracks where the band take big steps into newer climes that they show there is much more within them waiting to be unleashed. The two industrial powered songs in opener/intro ‘The Quiet’ and the dark apocalyptic soundscape of ‘2012’ are stunning, emotive and expressive in sound and intent. Though both are without proper vocals, basically instrumentals they show the band do have distinct power and ideas, and know how to deliver them. Alongside these we have the excellence of ‘It’s Over’ and ‘Allein’. The first going down the Sick Puppies rock road features Markus Klavan and Matt Litwin of American band Bulletproof Messenger and drives for the ear with eager metal intent. Within the opening chords and first line the song has the ear alert and pulse excited, the vocal blend of male and female vocals a perfect mix as is the synth waves of sound alongside the driven guitars.

Allein’ is easily the albums best track and one hopes a direction they will look at more in tandem with their melodic rock sounds. Another industrial inspired slice the song features vocals from Heli Reissenweber of Rammstein cover band Stahlzeit, and it is no surprise there is a distinct Rammstein flavour. The track excels with the again great vocals from Ophuis alongside Reissenweber, its power and diversity the cause of eager anticipation of more in this vein from the band.

The Quiet Resistance is a great album, well created and delivered and at every point makes listening to it a pleasure. It just could have been a classic if the band had been more adventurous throughout and experimented more, but as the enjoyment is still strong all should go take a listen and decide for themselves.

http://www.nemesea.com/

RingMaster 15/11/2011

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