There are times when I just can't listen to symphonic metal, and then there are times where I can't seem to get enough of it. Where that line divides the two sentiments I have no idea. But it must lie somewhere in how the symphonic elements blend with the metal aspect of the music. You can't just come into the metal studio with your keyboard loaded up with a "maximum strings" patch. Authenticity plays a huge part in how the music will be received; either it will sound majestic or cheesy, and the difference is all too critical to success.
Luckily there's no problem with Xandria's arrangements. Taking a cue from other successful genre bands like Nightwish, the proven formula of female lead vocalist, epic keyboards, and (best of all) some very tasty, dirty guitar for just the right amount of heaviness as if to say "hey, don't forget we're a metal band!"
With their sixth studio album Sacrificium, and the recent addition of vocalist Dianne van Giersbergen, Xandria is clearly bucking for the lead position in the symphonic metal genre. From the pretty epic opening title track, clocking in at a little over ten minutes, the band sets the tone. They're here to rock and they're not screwing around, that much is clear. And even when things mellow out for a moment, the stillness is threatened with a contained fury. You always have the feeling that big heavy riffs are being held in check like wargs in Saruman's pit, waiting to be let loose and lay waste to everything in sight. That's where Xandria really excels. The epicness can only be held back for so long, and when it gets released, it's...well, epic. Genre fans should definitely pick this up if they haven't already.
The Bottom Line: German symphonic metallers Xandria are poised to take on the current king of the hill, Nightwish, with furious guitars and majestic keyboards all held together by the confident, powerful soprano of Dianne van Giersbergen. Go get 'em.
Tracks To Make You Consider Getting A Velvet Waistcoat: Sacrificium, The Undiscovered Land and Little Red Relish
- Genghis can not do justice to vests...