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The Platonic Form of Mediocrity - 49%

A Friendly Observer, August 5th, 2018

This is the Chinese bootleg of Nightwish. This is bargain-bin Nightwish. This is what Nightwish would like if someone gave a giant booklet to Baby Boomers on how to construct a symphonic power metal band and they assembled it together to present to the local Presbyterians who are curious to hear some spooky tunes.

On a superficial level, everything is there: a female singer with a serviceable voice, gothic-tinged synths, lyrics of dread, sadness, and the checkbox-list of metal cliches. The song titles read like a list of Family Feud answers to 'Names of metal songs' - 'Apocalypse!' 'Armageddon!' 'Gates of Hell!' 'Eclipse!' It's all a bit much.

Opener 'Wings of Light' is somewhere in the vicinity of being a good song, but is so simple that it's an insult to pop music to say it's akin to pop music. Good pop music isn't this lazy. There are goth-y synths layered over some power chords, and a chorus with no rhythmic variation whatsoever but a rise-and-fall melodythat manages to stick with me somehow. But it makes me mad that it sticks with me, because it sounds like whoever wrote this just dashed off whatever the first decent melody came to mind onto paper, wrote out some stream-of-consciousness lyrics filled with various cliches of the symphonic power metal genre, and slapped together a song. Onions, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, meat, bun...it's all there, but it tastes like cardboard.

The whole album feels cheap in this sense. The songs are so unambitious; they seem self-aware that they are trying to do something out of their element and that it's an experiment, a testing of the waters. That they have been in an almost perpetual here-but-not-here hiatus since this album shows how badly anyone really wanted to commit to this band. Songs like 'Revelations' and 'Apocalypse' sound almost like they want to be interesting songs, but they keep running down the runway and never take off. This sense of flatness pervades the record, the highs are so low and the themes are so shallow and the lyrics look like they are ripped from the poetry diaries of a precocious 8th grade girl who also reads Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. Even the band name is kind of goofy in this way. HolyHell? The ingredients in that name do not mix well. And since there's a token ballad, I'd better address it: the maudlin piano-driven piece 'The Fall' drags...and drags...oh, my goodness -- the band managed to stretch three minutes of material into nearly six. Is there nothing they cannot do in their quest to prove that they are jacks of all trades, masters of none?

This is a frustrating album because it sounds like there's potential here if everyone involved would put a little heart and character into it. Do these people believe in what they are playing? The record sounds simply mechanical. Such a strange feeling washes over me when I listen to it; it's like computer software found out what symphonic power metal is and produced a prototype for me that has all the necessary features, but none of the spark or character or elevation that characterizes true genre greats like Nightwish, Sonata Arctica, Epica, and Dawn of Destiny. Why are these people playing this genre of music? Do they think about the themes of love and loss and tragedy and reconciliation and overcoming like the genre greats do? It is not evident on this album.

Representative, superior songs from the album: Wings of Light, Revelations, Apocalypse, Armageddon

HolyCrap - 85%

Flamos, October 13th, 2009

At first glance this may seem like a Nightwish clone. A female singer in the genre of power metal. This is discouraging, mainly because it most likely means absolutely no originality or spunk. However, if you throw your suspicions away, you'll mind an enjoyable piece of music. The name of the band describes their music entirely, a gorgeous voice from Maria Breon and hellish and dark lyrical themes. Also, this album is under Magic Circle production. A company owned by Manowar bassist Joey DaMio. This alone jolts their status up to recognizable, but with a good record deal and expectations, do they full deliver?

The acquisition of Joe Strump is quite a sensational one. His playing is flawless and consistent, something a new band normally doesn't get handed to them. Not only that, the also obtained Kenny Edward, aka Rhino, once the drummer for Manowar. Being in that band alone puts your near the top, and his performance is also great. Having two veterans in you band makes things a little bit easier when your up and coming. Just having these two in the band elevates you beyond others. Now, keyboards do exist here. Whether your annoyed by them or not, there used extremely well here. Francisco Palomo has also done some previous work with Manowar, so he's made some what of a name of himself as well. It's not overblown or drowning, it's used in the right amount and successfully cast on this album. You will enjoy his playing. The bass player Jay Rigley has bounced around in a few underground projects, and he also does a nice job here. To be honest, this is a superb line-up. To get Rhino and Joe Strump is a massive privilege and they use them to their full extent. Maria Breon's voice is absolutely astounding. If your a fan of female vocals she could be your new favorite, if you not, well shame on you.

A perfect example of her voice is the ballad title "The Fall." Holy crap, dose she do a fantastic job. The choirs is layered well and performed just as good. "Wings of Light" is the opener, and probably the catchiest as well. The lyrical content of this album is simple really, every song revolves around angels, demons, light, darkness, life, and death. Sure, not the most inventive idea, but this is used effectively to it's highest potential. Every song seems to tell a new story, even though the content is a one trick pony. It's repetitive, and unique at the same time. This album can break off it's weaknesses with solid writing and performances. "Holy Water" begins with a cool riff and it hooks you quickly. Soon enough, this song will get you to. Now, the instrumental "Mephesto" is something special. It's a keyboard solo performance (minus a few other instruments here and there). There's no doubt that this is one of the coolest songs I've heard in a while. Fast, full of energy, and just plain awesome. I loved it actually. This is where Fransisco Palomo shows what he can do, and if you doubted him before, this will keep your mouth shut for sure. Very impressive. Resurrection is actually a cover from the band Godgory. A slower pace, and a bit lengthy, but an overall solid tune. "Gates of Hell" is also well done. The choirs is quite catchy and powerful. "Eclipse" and "Apocalypse" have a similar feel. "Armageddon" is an average song at best, but after listening to such a positive album, it shouldn't bother you too much.

The production is rock solid. If anyone has listened to Joey DeMayo you know he strives for perfection, and he gets damn close with this one. The album clocks in a little over an hour, so you'll get what you pay for. This band was blessed with great players and a good production team. You'll be pleasantly surprised when you purchase this, getting a healthy does of power metal that definitely cleanses the palliate. Great album, recommend to any power metal enthusiast.