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Meh, she looked better with red hair - 68%

joncheetham88, November 21st, 2009

After three years in which Xandria released an album once every twelve months, and were regularly featured on those awful Schattenreich compilations, the band took a little time off to tour and put more time into creating their next album. After the symphonic blowout that was India, one half-expected them to up the ante and try and record their own version of Within Temptation's Mother Earth. Instead, Salomé is a curious combination of Eastern-flavoured guitar melodies and even more pronounced pop sensibilities.

Which makes the opening 'Save My Life' a rather odd choice, as it is simply a watered down reiteration of Ravenheart's title track. 'Vampire' is more representative, with stereotypical Oriental guitar riffs in the verse and a heavy, but very poppy chorus. The tracks 'Beware' and 'Emotional Man' were the real surprise however; both use jaunty pop beats with simplistic guitar riffs laid over the top; the catchy rhythm is often supplied by the noodling bass antics of Nils Middelhauve. Admittedly, the talented Lisa sounds right at home on these two; unlike Tarja Turunen, who some might argue held herself back when she was confronted with more mainstream sounding music, Lisa belts out a pair of cracking performances with these two.

After these however, the album slumps a little, with 'Only For the Stars in Your Eyes' and 'Sisters of the Light' being just too damn cheesy, and 'Firestorm' seeming like a forced attempt at a more gothic song. 'Sleeping Dogs Lie' and 'On My Way' end the album on a more toe-tapping note however, being basically revisits to the third and fourth numbers. The former of these maintains the Oriental sounds with distant, chanting vocals from Lisa and sudden flute flourishes at various points during the song.

While each track is pervaded with these exotic influences, the album suffers from the same problems of inconsistency as the band's debut. The songwriting is the main problem; the band was again trying to go in two directions at once, and it presents a slightly confusing listening experience.

Overall, it sounds as if the band was having a lot more fun here than before however. The mainstream sound will offend some, but the amount of energy and enthusiasm going into the songs shows that the band were more concerned with having a good time than anything else. Which, while I would condemn the major-label pandering decline of Sirenia, Lacuna Coil and Delain (all things to avoid) Xandria maintain some cred by dint of their honesty. This was to be Lisa's last album with the band, so Salomé closes a chapter as well.