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Man this sucks. This suuuuuucks. This sucks in the way where it's like after a few seconds of listening someone just punched you in the gut. The shittiness actually knocks the wind out of you. Releases like this are what gave Pavement its reputation as a bargain bin label and it's completely deserved even if every release but this one was solid fucking gold. 'Lightbringer' fucking SUCKS.
Okay, I guess this would fall into the shitty flower metal quality, but I'm not willing to lump it in with that because I like bands like Sonata Arctica and shit a lot. Power Symphony is similarly flaccid and gay like Stratovarius, but the difference between those two is that bands like Stratovarius concentrate on making memorable, catchy, fun music, whereas Power Symphony make power metal like they're baking a cake they read about in a cooking magazine once. I'm truly amazed that I've found an album here that manages to conform to even the most minute stereotypes of power metal yet inherit absolutely none of that genre's dedication to fun, catchy melodies, and epic song structures. This is the muzak of power metal. It is unbearably shitty.
The songs are excruciatingly repetitive; I think the whole pre-chorus/chorus section of 'The Way Of The Sword' is repeated three or four times, and each time it seems to take fucking forever. The rest of the songs seem to follow suit with only a few riffs each but an unlimited number of cock rock solos or keyboard passages provided in order to pad them out. Michela D'Orlando is operatic yet sounds completely unenthusiastic about what she's singing (as would I in her position) and the rest of the band follows suit. Even the production seems to lack enthusiasm, with guitars thrown on the back burner in favor of literally everything else coming right up front.
There's few albums that feel longer than this one; I think I've sat through it three, maybe four times, and yet on this listen I am completely unable to remember any of it except for how long it takes to end every time, with its dime-store synth patches, obnoxious Foreigner-ripoff riffs and droning, crawling, trudging song structures. This is truly the bottom of the barrel for power metal, so mediocre it can't even give me a rage-hardon. This fucking sucks. I hate you, Italy.
Back during the height of the music downloading craze I was a frequent visitor at Audio Galaxy, the now defunct music downloading outlet/forum that was essentially Napster on steroids, and functioned equally as well as a debate society much as the Archives is today but not uniquely to the metal genre. One of the features included a top ten list on the home page compiled at the caprice of the administrator, who had piss poor taste in music. “Power Symphony” was on this list as a token power metal band and was lauded endlessly on an Op-Ed article on the site, so naturally I was curious and bought the CD that he was touting as some sort of diamond in the rough, completely unknowing of the hell that would result.
“Power Symphony” succeeds in getting every aspect of both power metal and symphonic metal completely wrong, which is quite an accomplishment if this is your intent. The vocals are so horrendously out of tune that it induces pain in my temples, not to mention the sheer lack of range in most of the melodies. The riffs are utterly forgettable, bouncing back and forth between quasi-Blind Guardian worshiping guitar melodies and an extremely poor symphonic atmosphere that is somehow supposed to resemble Rhapsody’s music. The drums have no punch to them at all, the bass is not audible, and the keyboards themes are repetitive and anti-climactic.
The best song on here is “The Way of the Sword”, which has some semblance of energy to it, although the song is pretty much destroyed by bad vocals that are way too high in the mix. “Lucifer” has an intro ripped off from Iron Maiden’s “Remember Tomorrow”, followed by a set of quasi-energetic riffs with even worse vocals dwarfing them. From here the album pretty much gets progressively worse, as they essentially uses the same style of song with somewhat different intros until boredom combined with ears permanently harmed by the voice of this dark angel with broken windpipes who can’t carry a tune for anything. “Never Dream of Goodness” is my pick for the most disturbing bad song in the vocal department, the damned “Oh, oh, oh” is done so many times out of key that you wonder why the CD has managed not to get tossed like a Frisbee into a brick wall.
Joey Vera, who produced this profane thing that calls itself power metal, must have been infected with the same disease that Scott Ian injected into John Bush to get him to sing like a retarded ape. I don’t know how else a seasoned veteran of metal can listen to Michela D’Orlando’s voice and not only fail to be revolted, but actually agree to produce this piece of garbage. If I were him I’d grab all the excess “Lightbringer” albums he has and sell them as beer coasters at 50 cents a piece, because that’s all their worth.
Fans of power metal, if you ever hear a person state that Power Symphony embodies a better direction for the sub-genres it uses in its name than anything else out there (as that moron on Audio Galaxy did), do me a favor and beat them senseless. This is complete and utter crap, generic is too kind for it, even substandard sounds like a euphemism. Unless you plan on using the CD and case for some modern art/sculpting class, this thing is completely useless.
With a name like Power Symphony you can probably guess what this band sounds like, and to a large extent they indeed play a symphonic brand of Italian power metal, albeit with a female singer and a few gothic influences sprinkled into the mix. While not terribly original this stuff is decent for what it is. You’re sure to be disappointed if you go in expecting something mind-blowing, but for female-fronted power metal you could certainly do worse.
As with a lot of these bands the main draw is – or is at least supposed to be – the vocalist, here Michela D’Orlando. Her voice is more mid-ranged and much less operatic than, say, that of Tarja from Nightwish. A more valid comparison might be Elisa Martin’s work in Dark Moor, though probably not as good (I’ll admit to not having heard her work since leaving Dark Moor). D’Orlando has a noticeable accent like so many Italian singers, but it rarely detracts much from the music. Overall I found her voice to be pleasant yet moderately powerful. Often these female-fronted bands think that automatically having an operatic singer at the helm will equal instant success, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. If we can criticize male singers for all sounding alike then we can surely do likewise for these women. So even though D’Orlando may not be close to others in terms of technical prowess, her accent and slightly rough edge actually make her stand out a bit from all the tepid Evanescence clones out there.
The music on display here is really nothing special. It’s not quite as fast and overbearing as some of the ultra-speedy Italian stuff, and some songs even have, as mentioned above, touches of gothic rock, mainly in the slower sections and D’Orlando’s performance on certain songs. Sure, it’s still power metal, but not of the usual variety. The production could stand a bit more punch, especially with the drums, but overall it works. The music on display here is really nothing special. Decent guitar melodies do exist but nothing blows you away – everything is rather simple, but simple doesn’t mean bad.
The songs are a mixed bag. The first four are solid, especially the opener “Way of the Sword”, probably the song that most sounds like a traditional power metal tune on the disc. However, I wasn’t a big fan of the ballad “Song of Men”. Also, as previous reviewers have noted, the last song is just ridiculous. Tacking this sort of padding (15 minutes is a hell of a lot of padding) onto an album is unforgivable – it adds nothing to the music and I cannot see how anyone would find it the least bit enjoyable. Without this garbage the album would run a little less than 35 minutes, a length which puts us into the EP range. Instead, Power Symphony chose the complete antithesis of creativity in their attempt to bring this thing up to a full-length release, and for that I have to dock some points. Luckily I only paid about $6 for this thing, so I don’t feel ripped off.
Still, there is some enjoyable material here, it’s just rather short. For a cheap price this would be a good pickup if you enjoy bands like Edenbridge, Nightwish, some older Dark Moor, or even stuff like Theater of Tragedy (maybe a stretch). At full price, however, you’ll probably want to pass.