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Xandria – Fire And Ashes EP Review

Band: Xandria
Album: Fire And Ashes
Label: Napalm Records
Genre: Symphonic/Power Metal
Country: Germany
Release Date: July 31st 2015

CD16481

Since the start of their career, Xandria (with founder and guitarist Marco Heubaum) has been battling the field for the righteous voice that will lead them to eternal voyage. Having found singing siren Dianne Van Giersbergen two years ago, the band has proven that they will always shine through the symphonic universe. Their latest 7- track EP release Fire And Ashes is quite a musical testament of orchestral glory and solid covers.

Voyage of the Fallen introduces itself as the power-punching frontliner for a trek full of majestic chorale voices, unalloyed riffs and a rigid percussive section. The contrast between mid/fast-tempo sections ensures flexibility for the ears. The song gets followed by Unembraced which can easily be one of the strongest tracks in this release. The easy implementation of alternating quarters and gallops will have avidlisteners get their rhythmic pleasure fix.

As if it’s not enough, In Remembrance gives Dianne a lot of shining moments to show her vocal range deep down from the heart up to our towers of memory. Her vibrato doesn’t show off that much but it might be because of how the melodic passages are constructed with its diagram here. From here on out, Xandria graces us with what would be controversial with long-time fans and varied listeners alike but chosen with meaning and a metal texture.

Meat Loaf was once regarded as one of the top theatrical performers. Having acquired such attribute, it makes sense for Xandria to go for their own rendition of I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That). Both the original and this variation boast performance-level dynamics and what’s quite interesting is that this approach wasn’t exactly predictable. It used the seemingly catchy phrases as kind of a build-up to
the shredding and double bass parts and it zooms just fine. Surprisingly, guest vocalist Valerio Recenti of the band My Propane also had something to offer within the song and it works great as a short counterpart with Dianne’s singing.

As stated from above, it would most likely be a good time to demonstrate how the new singer would fare well with the old songs as Ravenheart and Now And Forever was picked as contenders. Both songs will blow anything out of the water with still- captivating and rich vocal melodies. The new voice blends in very well with how these two pieces were initially composed and of course, instrument-wise it’s safe to say that these two had upliftings. The last track in this EP is a heavenly cover of Don’t Say A Word. Certainly, they’re not Sonata Arctica and they’re not from Finland, they’re Xandria and they have their own musical freedom. This edition still shares the same signatures with the original model albeit with a more picked-up frontman (or woman if you prefer) style.

Fire And Ashes would most likely be a double-edged sword with its entirety. Some of the band’s old electronica mixes were toned down in favor of gaining more consonance with the new vocals. The genre is also filled with lots of similar contenders and while being objective with what their own market usually wants, it seems that Xandria will need to push the first three tracks’ composition style into a more stand-out explosion that paves the way for more creative new songs and take advantage of what Dianne does best. Who knows, maybe this is how they wanted us to be ready for what’s to come. Xandria doesn’t really have to show off a lot, although they’re not going for a minimalistic approach, they keep it simple and it works. Short but sweet.

Rating: 8/10

Tracklist:
1. Voyage Of The Fallen
2. Unembraced
3. In Remembrance
4. I’d Do Anything For Love
5. Ravenheart (From Ravenheart, 2004)
6. Now And Forever (From India, 2005)
7. Don’t Say A Word (Sonata Arctica)

Total Playing Time: 35:01

 

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