Tag Archives: symphonic metal

December: The start of the New Wave of Symphonic Metal?

StormbounD are a symphonic metal band all the way from Israel. Their debut album, December, is released tomorrow. We got our hands on it a little early and just had to check it out and let you know what it was like! Join us in checking it out!

Opening on some strings, operatic vocals and synth, the album and ‘Desert’s Roar’ opens beautifully. It heads into an EPIC guitar riff, aided perfectly by the vocals and strings again over the top of the start of each bar. Yael Horwitz’s amazing vocals come in for the verse, some great instrumental stabs behind her. Ofer Friedman sings the rest of the verse, building up perfectly into the huge, incredibly catchy, duel-vocalled chorus. Man, when symphonic metal is done right like this I LOVE it.

The bridge reminds me of Evanescence Yael’s vocals soaring over the top of some great lead guitaring. We then get some awesome, heavy riffing and even a key change before inevitably heading back to the chorus. It was dropped down for the first reprisal, always a fun technique, especially when done in a live setting. What an incredible way to open an album. I loved this song and it’s easily made the playlist!

‘Alter of Innocence’ builds up strings over the top of an interesting spoken word sample. the melody and rhythm to it is a little swingy and gives off heavy Halloween vibes. A mixture between Nightmare Before Christmas and A Little Piece of Heaven. It all sets the tone perfectly. The rest of the track is full of fast guitar riffs, typically soaring vocals and plenty of catchiness in both the vocal and guitars melody. There were even some harsh vocals from Ofer, a nice touch to break things up. The band are so far two for two with awesome songs on the album!

‘Sacred Lies’ dives in with an almost thrash/extreme metal riff, another great change of pace. We get another excellent riff afterwards, them being another huge highlight of the album alongside the vocals and symphonic elements. After three mega riffs we head into some more harsh vocals from Ofer. We don’t get Yael’s vocals (or clean ones in general) outside of the choruses, and even then they feel like they have a more rocky, aggressive edge to them than before. We also get an incredible guitar solo to break up the choruses, fill of technical ability and emotion. This was another awesome track and another to make our playlist!

A beautiful piano melody opens ‘Away From Here’ and runs through the opening verse and chorus. Yael’s voice fits so well over the top, it all sounding beautiful and full of emotion. Heck, even Ofer’s clean vocals sound great too for it. The heaviness picks up for the second verse with the drums, guitars and synths. It’s fun, but almost feels a little too full on for me immediately for some reason. A fun guitar solo breaks up the traditional song structure, it taking to 2:30 minutes before we get a second verse. There was even a fun, albeit brief, keyboard solo in here, again mixing things up and keeping me on my toes! I loved the opening of this track and the chaotic nature, but I have to admit I preferred the previous tracks over it.

The album’s title track is an epic, 10+ minute prog song. Now that you’re prepared, let’s get into it. After a beautiful intro and some more awesome riffs, we get a clean verse after over 1:30. We don’t reach the first chorus until nearly three minutes into the song but it’s definitely worth it, catchy and brilliantly written. Some more awesome riffage leads to a longer keyboard solo, a real lost art in this day an age done well here.

Check out another Symphonic review here!

I cannot get over how talented the instrumentalists are in this band. They get to show it off so much in this track and it’s amazing. Ofer’s screams come back at around the six minute mark, adding some aggression to the track. We then get an INSANELY good guitar solo for nearly a solid minute, which was awesome. It drops back down to keyboard and synths afterwards, Yael’s beautiful vocals coming in over the top. It then builds up into the most epic closing couple of minutes of a track since GnR’s ‘Coma’. The emotion expressed in the vocals gave me goosebumps and everything behind them worked perfectly and added so much. AMAZING stuff. CHECK THIS OUT.

The most recent single, ‘Shadows’, opens slower again with strings and an acoustic guitar. It’s very much the ballad of the album, staying at a similar pace and level throughout. It is amazingly beautiful and emotional, Yael being the highlight though everything else is also amazing. I don’t even know what else to say, it’s a perfect slow track. Check this out too no matter what genre of music you’re into, I promise you will love it as much as I do! Playlisted!

‘Flying High’ picks up the pace again, the opening riff sounding right out of Iron Maiden’s discography before a more folky feel took over. A thrash riff came in soon after, leading to a heavier verse. There’s some cool mathy drums and guitar through it too at times. Ofer’s vocals in the pre reminded me of David Draiman, leading perfectly into another catchy chorus. It’s the closest thing to a straight-up rock track on the album, and it’s a lot of fun.

‘Fragments’ is another good, fun song, but at this stage in the album doesn’t give us anything we haven’t heard already. The main riff does remind me of old-school BFMV though, which is fun! Then we reach the closing track and another single, ‘Child’s Play’. It’s another long track, clocking in at nine minutes. It opens on some more horror vibes with a creepy child’s voice, building up slowly into a great riff after a minute or so of lead guitar and strings. Both the verse and chorus have catchy vocals, call and response between the singers through the verse while they harmonies the choruses.

We get plenty of great instrumentation, lead or rhythm, for the middle portion of the track, and it doesn’t slow down once. It’s another showcase of their incredible talent and skill, not at all making me jealous… What a way to close an album. While not quite as epic-feeling as ‘December’, it’s still huge and a fitting way to finish such a monumental album. Great stuff.

Overall: Move aside Nightwish. Move aside Within Temptation. There’s a new symphonic metal titan in town. In all seriousness, this was fantastic. I have a very up and down relationship with the sub-genre but this was a ridiculous high for me. Everyone is insanely skilled and very good songwriters, and created a well put together album as a result. I cannot wait to hear more and hopefully see them live soon!

The Score: 8.5/10

Ancient Waters: Cølestine and Interview!

We thought we’d try and do something a bit different this time. Ancient Waters was released back in December and we have been speaking to Jehanna about an interview for a while, so we thought we’d combine it together into one big feature to give you a good idea of what she is about!

How would you describe your sound?

‘I like to describe it as Bluegaze since it’s like the water, which can be calm but also wild. I think it’s a mix of Symphonic Metal and Blackgaze, with some rock, some folk elements and classical music.

Check out our interview with Bastette here.

As somewhat confusing as ‘Bluegaze’ could be, it is actually a very fitting description. Opening track ‘Rán’ is definitely symphonic rock/metal, and it does flow back and forth between the harder stuff and a softer sound. The harmonies in the choruses are a highlight, as is the bridge riff which somehow reminds me of both Black Sabbath and Madness, what a pairing! Jehanna’s vocals are impressive too, soaring high and fitting the music perfectly. My only issue, and it will probably be with the album as a whole, is that it isn’t terribly well mixed. It may just be my laptop speakers finally giving up on me, but the instrumentation didn’t quite pack the punch I was hoping for.

‘Nøkkens Svig’ even fittingly opens on the sound of bubbling liquid, an almost ominous, creepy piano melody over the top. The rest of the instruments join in and make it heavy (though again I wish they were louder), before dropping out and making the verse feel slower and quieter, adding to the menacing atmosphere. In fact, the whole track is slower than the previous one, giving it a much more epic feel to it. It’s a great track!

The above track ‘Ice & Wind’, picks up the pace again, this one almost having a Norse feel to it! The vocal harmonies are again a massive plus, and the melody for the vocals itself is heavily rooted in folk. The blend of styles here is really interesting and sounds great. Also, the drums stood out a lot in this track, but they have been solid and enjoyable throughout so far. This one makes the playlist, awesome stuff!

How was it making the album, given that you made it on your own?

It was definitely challenging me as a musician, since I started to learn to play the guitar and even the bass, for I didn’t have the musicians at hand. Luckily, my former guitar player helped me on the guitars. I also had to program the drums, which was the most nerve-wrecking part and no fun at all. But I liked how this showed me how much I am able to do all by myself. It builds more trust in you as a person and in your skills.

Is there a particular theme or story throughout the album, or is it more on an individual track basis?

It’s actually a chapter of my life which was filled with new experiences. All songs came to me in dreams, so I wasn’t writing them consciously.’

Speaking of dreams, ‘Sailor’s Tears’ opens on a beautiful string soundscape that does sound almost ethereal. It also builds perfectly, adding a simple drum fading in and out behind Jehanna’s powerful vocals. The distorted guitars and synths build in after time as the drums pick up, adding some great dynamics to the track. In fact, this song goes up and down beautifully throughout, it has some great quiet bits as well as the heavy stuff. With the right production, this could have been a MASSIVE single. Still the sound is growing on me, and it doesn’t hamper my enjoyment of the song too much!

Do you plan on getting a band together to play some shows and tour it? 

This is definitely something I want for Ancient Waters. I hope that when the Covid-situation is better and there is someone to give the musicians and me the opportunity to play, the first tour will happen. Of course it’s not that easy for me as a one-woman-band, for someone needs to pay the other musicians, but I’ll make it happen in one way or the other.

‘Boreas’ is another slow starter, a simple piano melody backed up with some ‘ooo’s. The lyrics soon come in over the top, again fitting the tone perfectly. It has even heavier folk vibes than before. Especially since it doesn’t actually get heavy at all. There are no guitars at all in this, just piano, vocals, strings and the same singular drum throughout. It’s a really enjoyable track, and one I could easily hear on a movie soundtrack, it’s that epic. Playlisted!

Where would be the dream place or venue for you to play at?

I think at any beach in the world with the sound of waves in the background.

Even though you have only just released an album, are you already planning and writing for a second?

‘Yes! The 2nd album is already written and the demos are recorded. Last week I finished most of the artwork and soon I’ll start to record it. This one is a bit heavier, for the melodies mostly came to me while sitting there with a guitar. I wrote it when Covid was at its core and we were in lockdown. There were many dark thoughts and dreams and this album expresses that.’

The rest of the album is equally as great as the first half of it, epic soundscapes of symphonic folk rock. ‘Havets Datter’ is another highlight, a nearly eight-minute epic of a track. But overall there isn’t a bad track on the album, it’s thoroughly enjoyable!

Score: 7/10

If you could collaborate with one artist or band, who would it be? 

Tomi Joutsen from Amorphis. I even asked him already do to some growling on the 2nd album but he didn’t reply. So like always, I tried, haha.’

And finally, we asked her if she had anything to plug and the answer was a very fitting sign off for this article…

‘Yeah, go listen to the new album “Cølestine”, give it some love, purchase the CD… It’ll give you some escapism if you’re in a dark place right now.’

Did you enjoy our interview/review? As always keep up to date on all of our content from our Instagram here.

The Missing Stone: The Next Great Symphonic Metal Album?

I hadn’t heard of Dream Ocean before a couple of weeks ago when I was looking at what albums were being released soon. Because of that, I have purposefully avoided the band, outside of one of the singles, ready to do this review clean and proper. I’m quite the fan of symphonic metal though so I am pretty excited for this, join me in checking it out!

The short opening track ‘Nightmare’ sets the tone for the album perfectly, opening on a creepy windup music box before an epic couple of minutes of orchestral strings and horns ring through. It gives the album an immediate grand feel to it, something that wouldn’t be out of place in a film soundtrack, and it builds perfectly into the first proper track, ‘Dark Miracles’. Said track explodes straight in with some lightning-quick drums and an awesome riff. The operatic vocals come in soon over the top for a great verse. It gives off obvious Nightwish and Within Temptation vibes, but the major presence of the orchestral parts gives a different feel to it, make it sound unique while also adding so much depth to the sound. The vocals are even more impressive in the chorus, soring higher and changing between the notes with complete control. It helps that it’s also very catchy, thanks in large part to the harmonies behind the main vocals. The bridge after the second chorus is awesome, the vocals soaring even more and providing more of a lead line over the top where you would usually expect a guitar. It was mighty impressive! We got another bridge and this one even had some harsh growled male vocals that contrasted beautifully with the female lead, adding some fantastic dynamics and harkening back to the creepy opening track. We then get a final chorus to finish things off; an easily playlisted, awesome track.

Lead single of the album and a track released way back last year, ‘Pendulum of Time’, is up next. It opens on a pretty heavy, sinister riff, the strings, synths, and keys working so well over the top of the low, distorted guitar and huge drums and bass to make a truly massive sound. Most of it drops out for the verse but the ever-powerful vocals more than make up for it, keeping the sound and atmosphere massive. In fact, it’s the same throughout this track. The band does an incredible job at arranging the parts so that each track sounds as full and huge as it possibly can be, and each part works perfectly together. The chorus is another catchy and anthemic one, just as enjoyable as the previous. It drops out for a second after the second chorus before we get a pretty heavy bridge, the harmonies on the vocals being damn impressive, pretty much opera at this point. It then gradually builds up into a heavy riff and fantastic guitar solo, it suddenly taking a turn into black metal momentarily, backed up by the harsh male screams over the top of it all. It again adds to the atmosphere perfectly. We then get a final chorus to close out another fantastic track.

‘The Great Silence’ opens on an almost industrial intro and riff before the strings and horns make it undoubtedly symphonic as they give it an almost medieval/pirate vibe, I cannot quite decide which one. The verse is pretty similar to the previous song’s, heavy and chuggy, and the chorus is again MASSIVE and very catchy. I can easily see this on a huge arena-sized stage, with a fantastic stage show to boot. An awesome guitar solo follows the second chorus, the notes being given plenty of time to breath and it creates a really epic atmosphere! We then get a final chorus and outro to take us home. A simpler structure and a shorter song helped this one after the longer previous song, good stuff!

‘Lucid Air’ opens straight into the verse and has a pretty interesting vocal melody, it running at an odd time signature in comparison to the rest of the music. The rest of it is pretty standard for this album and band by this point, but the time signatures are really cool throughout! Also, it has another AWESOME chorus, one of my favourites on the album, actually. Meanwhile ‘As I Die’ had a pretty cool opening with just vocals, and the guitar following the rough melody afterwards was also awesome. Outside of that, though, there isn’t a great deal for me to say about it, it’s simply another solid track!

‘Eterna Espera’ holds a place in my heart as it was the first track I checked out from the band when I heard of the album’s release a couple of weeks ago, and it instantly made Track of the Week on our Instagram. It perfectly encapsulates what the band is about and their sound, from the hauntingly beautiful opening keys to the heavy metal guitars, bass, and drums throughout and the soaring but oft delicate vocals that contrast amazingly with all the rest. It all combines together through heavy riffs, awesome guitar solos, and incredible, catchy choruses filled with meaningful lyrics. It easily makes the playlist and is definitely a highlight of the album. It shows that the band takes what Nightwish and others have done in the past, but also builds on it and modernises it perfectly.

The electronic sounds were an interesting new addition at the start of ‘Daydreamer’, but outside of that, it is again a little more of the same. The same awesomeness, but the same nonetheless. The following track, ‘Song on the Ocean’, features Winterage’s own Gabriele Boschi on the violin. From what I can tell they make good use of him. The orchestral parts provide a beautiful three minutes for the vocals to weave over the top of. It was a wonderful change of pace after a fair few tracks that were similar, and it was so beautiful and epic that I couldn’t not love it!

We then reach the title track of the album and by far the longest song on the album, clocking in at over ten and a half minutes. It feels like it will be a slow burn kind of track with the slow piano intro but within a minute the metal kicks in over the top. The metal in question is awesome, but with such a long track it may have been nice to have had a slightly more steady intro. Especially since, for the vast majority of the time, it doesn’t go too far. There’s a pretty cool riff around the five-minute mark and it drops down to sown to synths a little bit later for a minute or so. But outside of that, it was all fairly similar, which was a shame as I’m generally a big fan of prog!

The electronic sounds return for the final track, ‘Uyan’, and I have to admit singing in a different language was a nice, unexpected touch, somehow adding even more beauty to the track. Much like most of the rest, it stays at that same level throughout, but I have to reiterate that it is a good level. They are all damn good songs, I just don’t have much I can write about them as a lot of them are fairly similar. Still, it is a good end to a good album!

Overall: This was great! Symphonic metal is a damn hard genre to crack, especially for a smaller band, but they did it perfectly with this album and really helped evolve the genre, I feel. I loved this and it has urged me to check out their previous stuff, as well as being excited to hear what is next for the band!

The score: 7.5/10

Did you enjoy our review? Keep up to date on all of our content from our Facebook page here.