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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