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To be honest, I did not know what to expect from this band and this album. I am fan of both power and symphonic metal, but I was worried about the progressive elements of Magnisphyricon. I prefer catchy and simple melodies rather than super-complicated solos and riffs. Well, I am glad to say this band did not disappoint me.
Magnisphyricon mixes both elements - melodies and progressive play - in a way that you will fall in love with. Most of the songs are based on simple and catchy choruses or riffs and the progressive elements make just some sort of decoration of the album. There are complicated solos, riffs, and middle parts of the songs, but they are somehow acceptable even for less demanding listeners as they are melodic and catchy themselves. A good example is the epic guitar solo from Soul Symmetry.
Another thing that makes Magnisphyricon a top album is performances. Each band member is an elite player and it is well recognizable on this album. Guitars are very variable, Oliver Palotai does an excellent job on the keyboards, and drumming is also more than solid. However, the absolute top is the singing. Henning Basse's performance literally gives me shivers in some parts. For example, the choruses of Soul Symmetry or Casus Belli I: Guilt's Mirror are pure musical heaven. Pure beauty.
Speaking of singing, this album features Simone Simons again. She was not given as much space as on the first album as she sings only in the first verse of Sanctuary, but makes it one of the album highlights. Her voice combined with simple bass lines is orgasmic to listen to.
Magnisphyricon combines symphonic, power, and progressive metal in the best possible ways, making this music enjoyable for fans of all these three music genres.
Kamelot keyboardist Oliver Palotai described forming Sons of Seasons as an outlet for his musical passions and these passions were laid out for all to hear (in 2009) on the debut CD 'Gods of Vermin'. Combining Palotai's passions for metal, jazz and classical music, 'Gods of vermin' was an excellent metal CD which included almost every metal genre around forged together in a giant metal mixing pot. It's needless to say that the CD was a massive breath of fresh air and something relatively new and unique within the metal scene.
Now in 2011, Palotai and his crew have returned to deliver their follow-up to the 2009 debut album, entitled 'Magnisphyricon' (say that five times fast).
Before hearing the new disc, going by just by the tracklist and CD cover alone, I can see that this release is going to be another fusion of Palotai's musical passions on an even bigger and epic grand scale. Guitarist Pepe Pierez will finally perform on his first Sons of Seasons album after joining the band around the time of the release of the debut (Palotai performed the guitar duties on 'Gods of Vermin'), while since the demise of power metal band Metalium, this band has now become the main focus for vocalist Henning Basse. Some may suggest Henning may have been a surprise choice by Palotai as lead singer, however to those who did not hear the first Sons of Seasons release, Basse's stunning vocal performance on 'Gods of Vermin' was sensational to say the least.
2011's 'Magnisphyricon' continues the musical creativity of Oliver Palotai, delivering more of an "upscale" metal opera type performance. Such is the level of the performance that it gives off the sensation that when I'm listening I feel that I'm under-dressed, and should be in something like a black tie ensemble, sitting in luxurious leather seats and sitting next to high society's A-listers. Well, that may be a slight over-exaggeration, but there are so many metal genres piled into this CD, it sounds so extravagant.
Metal genres such as symphonic, progressive and neo-classical are just a few to name a few frequent the album, but there is so much more to add. The song-writing is the key winner here and each song structure is carefully pieced together in a way that it becomes unpredictable, complex, multi-layered and hectic.
The entire disc is an experience itself and by the end of it, your appreciation for the musical mind of Oliver Palotai will have gone up in extremes. After the spine-tingling and eerie two minute intro we come to the symphonic "Bubonic Waltz", which features classical piano, organs and choirs; intertwined with sharp guitar riffs and wrapped up overall with a strong Kamelot influence. "Soul Symmetry" is primarily symphonic power metal with progressive metal elements, containing heavy and chunky guitar riffs and a bold double-bass assault on the drums. Henning Basse's vocals really standout on this track, with his delivery ranging from soft and subtle to dark and broody and finally melodic and soaring during the chorus.
Epica vocalist Simone Simons again appears as a guest vocalist like she did on the first album, sharing the vocal duties with Basse on the track "Sanctuary". It's an interesting track featuring a jazzy piano opening segment, with symphonic, neo-classic and orchestral passages throughout.
Continuing through the CD, "Lilith" is another standout track, which contains symphonic power/progressive metal and is quite dark in nature, with fierce choirs and gruff vocals. Another dark and broodish track is the excellent "Casus Belli I: Guilt's Mirror", which contains an overflowing amount of raw emotion, ferocious technical guitar riffs (a la Nevermore style) and almost spitting angry vocals tones from Basse. "Into the Void" is one of the more straightforward symphonic/melodic metal tracks on the CD, however just as effective as the others due to the brilliance of Henning Basse. Sound similar to Roy Khan (ex-Kamelot vocalist); Henning delivers a near perfect vocal performance that needs to be heard to be believed. While every track on the album is entertaining, interesting and unique in its own way, the final 2 songs worth mentioning here would be the riff-frenzied "Tales of Greed" and the melodically powerful "A Nightbird's Gospel".
Once the red velvet curtain has come down on this superb album, which can be considered to be a metal opera in itself; I praise the metal gods that I have my hearing, as this is majestic symphonic metal which is tantalising to the ears. It's also different and frantic and lastly delivers a statement that metal music is not just stereotypically bruising metal power chords, studded leather, swords, dragons, corpse paint or devil horns. Metal like this can be considered an art form of the senses and proves that even metalheads can be musical geniuses. With that said, Oliver Palotai's creativity is just an amazing phenomenon. If symphonic metal with progressive and neo-classical elements is what you're into, then Sons of Season's 'Magnisphyricon' will be everything you need and more.
Originally written for www.metalcdratings.com and www.themetalforge.com
'Supergroup' styled bands don't always have a tendency to work out in the long run. Very often, some of the guest stars will simply dabble and then return to their primary institutions, leaving the lesser known members to replace them or simply hang the project out to dry. So I was a little surprised that Sons of Seasons, known for fusing the talents of Henning Basse, Oliver Palotai, and others not only held itself together for some European touring, but managed to upstage themselves with a superior follow-up to 2009's Gods of Vermin. Magnisphyricon (I haven't the foggiest idea) is ultimately just a good progressive metal effort, hoarding Basse's mighty range within the walls of restraint, and incorporating bold symphonic elements as well as harder, thrashing rhythms when it suits them.
From the description I had read in advance, I expected something truly bizarre here, but it plays out more like a mesh of Helloween, Rhapsody, and perhaps Labyrinth. Songs like "Soul Symmetry" and "Into the Void" are leveled with potent grooves that contrast the buzzing key pads or the more epic, symphonic sweeps ala The Dark Ride. They'll also use whispers, female backing vocals (Simone of Epica), and worldly music influence (the intro to "Nightbird's Gospel") to create a truly 'international' balance over the substantial duration of the sophomore, which is nearly 70 minutes long with 14 tracks. Occasionally, the lower end guitar chugs will feel pretty vacant in creativity, but they're used largely as an accent to the bass player, and the real focus is what's happening above them. There's a vibration here of fey-like dalliance which is manifest through the subtler, pretty keys, female vocals and so forth, but then you've got elements like the crushing verse rhythm in "Lilith" which leaves an almost Morgana LeFay level of bruising.
Basse reminds me a lot of Andi Deris with this one, he just uses that same, satin range of seductive elegance, and rarely transforms into the screaming banshee we remember from Metalium's finer hours. But I found his performance here the most impressive. The other musicians are quite talented, but for all the variation and obvious effort, I was not able to pluck out a good many distinctive riffs from the mesh, nor symphonic sequences outside of the more obvious like the bold intro "Magnisphyricon: Temperance". You've got the powerful, pristine studio sound here that you'd expect of such veterans or really any signed, modern band in the style, but there's a slightly pervasive cheese cast over the otherwise intelligent content. Despite the promotional claims to the contrary, I honestly found Magnisphyricon to be a more modern, traditional progressive/power album than the debut, but where it might have sacrificed some of the Gods of Vermin's unique characteristics, it slightly inches past in its overall quality.