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Female fronted metal done RIGHT. - 95%

NoSoup4you, December 17th, 2006

When I first discovered Ebony Ark I was expecting one of "those bands" in the vein of Nightwish, Epica, etc. But what I found instead was a very unique and undeniably METAL group, the biggest surprise being Beatriz Albert's great vocals. Rather than the operatic whining you find in so many bands with female singers, Albert actually sings in the "normal" way and can really fucking belt it out. While I usually find female vocals in metal tolerable at best, Ebony Ark makes them one of their greatest strengths.

Of course good vocals are nothing without good music, and the band certainly takes care of that. The music is very progressive, original and CATCHY. Although the somewhat unnecessary piano intro might turn you off at first. The other ten "real songs" are all very memorable and high quality tracks. Songwriting is dynamic, varied and balanced well, walking the line between technicality and emotion, with just the right amounts of heaviness and shredding thrown in alongside acoustic and piano parts. Ebony Ark are a prog band, but they sure do know how to bring the riffs when they're needed. Nothing sounds weird or out of place, and the production holds up well throughout all the changes.

Highlights include Damned by the Past, the fastest track on the album with an awesome guitar/keyboard duel... The album single Thorn of Ice, with its radio-friendly but incredible chorus and badass heavy bridge... And Farewell, a very emotional song with the best vocal performance to be found on the CD. The only song I didn't really like was Searching for an Answer, which seems very formulaic and cheesy alongside the others. Still, every track has at least one part that will probably get stuck in your head.

Overall I'd say Decoder is just about a perfect album, brought down only by a couple tracks that could be better, but generally holding up a very high standard of quality. HIGHLY recommended to fans of prog, power, female vocals, symphonic stuff, or just about anything else.

Nothing special here, but enjoyable. - 83%

ShadowsFall63, March 1st, 2005

Well, here’s another one of those female vocalist power metal bands. Let me start off by saying this band sounds like all the others you’ve heard (Nightwish, Magica, Edenbridge, Lacuna Coil, Dark Moor (old); you get the picture). The only difference is I don’t think any of these “female vocalist bands” use elements of prog. Ebony Ark mixes prog metal with female vocals.

When I first heard a couple of songs off their web site I was eager to get a hold of their album, even though I’m not a huge fan of bands with female vocalists (the main reason because I’ve heard the same shit over and over again too much). But I figured what the hell, they sounded pretty good. Well I wasn’t disappointed, but then again I wasn’t impressed either. This IS, just as I was afraid of the same stuff done over and over again. Beatriz Albert is a pretty good vocalist, but nowhere near say Tarja Turunen (Nightwish) or Elisa C. Martin (ex-Dark Moor).
Something that I really like about this album is the riffs. Rubén Villanueva and Javier Jiménez do some pretty cool prog riffs, and what few guitar solos there is are pretty good too.

In conclusion, if you are a fan of the female vocalist style of metal, then this is an album for you, as it has nothing special, and sounds everything like everything else. I’m not saying this is a bad album, actually I enjoyed it, I’m just looking for bands to do something different. I think Ebony Ark has the potential to become a big band (first thing they need to do is get a record label) but Beatriz Albert needs to improve her vocal skills, and they need to learn how to do a few more guitar solos. I await the next release with anticipation of improvement.

Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com