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Instant Classic - 89%

FOrbIDen, October 17th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2004, CD, Frontiers Records (Slipcase)

Hailing from Switzerland, Lunatica is one of the many female fronted symphonic metal bands that came out of the woodwork in the early 2000s. Formed in 1998, they started their career as an independent project and self-released their debut album Atlantis in 2001 -- a painfully amateur album that elicits little more response than a beleaguered sigh. But the years that followed were critical for the band's career, having exponentially improved at their craft they released their sophomore effort Fables & Dreams in 2004 under the Italian label Frontiers Records. And let me tell you, it is triumphant!

So let's start from the beginning, the album opens up with an intro track "The Search Goes On", and it is at this point that I implore you: "please, please please, please listen past the opening song". Being the dramatic and sentimental work that Fables & Dreams is, "The Search Goes On" exceeds the four-minute mark and is a gloriously cinematic orchestral piece, but suffers from a laughably bad narration. Treating the band's music as some kind of mythologized historical record is an interesting idea (though I personally don't like the inclusion of definite measurements of time, i.e. "two years ago Atlantis was found"), but the script feels too obvious and disjointed to work. And even if the dialogue was good, the bland delivery would immediately demote it to cringe.

Luckily, when the intro does eventually end we really get into the meat of the album. Starting with "Avalon" Lunatica's sound becomes more apparent: this is not a dark album, Fables & Dreams is whimsical and extremely fluffy. That's not to say that it doesn't have any urgency or strength, this is still a metal band with the traditional metal instrumentation taking a major part in constructing the sound, but from the second track on you can tell what the rest of the album is going to have in-store. The music has a crunchy rhythm section comprised of the drums, guitars and bass (which has a really chunky sound to it), and though none of it technically spectacular, there's a great sense of flow and the music is engaging to the extent that it makes you want to bounce or jump around.

Of course, being a symphonic metal band, this rhythm section concedes to the orchestral elements and vocals which supply the melody and add more intricacy to the music. The symphonic parts on Fables & Dreams feel pretty evenly split between keyboards and actual orchestral instrumentation (though it could just be some very convincing MIDI strings and clever production), and supply catchy riffs and carry the main themes when the vocals don't, and epic swells that make everything feel shiny and magical.

Vocally, this album is catchy as all hell and reaches peak sing-along-ability with melodies that just flow together so seamlessly without any strange or awkward transitions. And though I wouldn't consider vocalist Andrea Dätwyler someone with the most palatable voice (she has a nice bright and clear timbre, but can sound metallic and abrasive) she is definitely more than capable and feels completely unimpeded and effortless when singing. There are some guest male vocals on a couple songs here, but it never dips into beauty and the beast territory (except for maybe the bridge of "The Spell"), instead aiming for a clean accompaniment for Dätwyler to play off of. And though I think Jean Marc Viller's delivery on "Fable of Dreams" is a little too boisterous, for the most part it all works. The male vocals on the aforementioned "The Spell" are more in line with the yell-singing used for Evanescence's "Bring Me to Life", so I guess proceed at your own risk if that's not your thing, but I think it's one of the best songs on the album.

Speaking of Evanescence, this album also has some subtle electronic effects, whirring sounds, and drum loops that sound plucked out of an Evanescence or Linkin Park song and mark it as a product of its time. And though it could have aged this album horribly, I find it all to be rather tasteful (as an aside, all music sounds like the time in which it was made or the time it was trying to emulate. Trends exist, sue me). Anyway, I rather like that the band doesn't shy away from incorporating elements of other genres, especially pop music. This album includes a cover of "Hymn" by British synthpop act Ultravox which sounds just as fun and campy as the original, not to mention the chorus of the album closer "A Little Moment of Desperation" sounds like something that Eurodance groups like Aqua or Toy-Box would sing and it just works with their format.

Fables & Dreams is something of an underappreciated classic of early 2000's symphonic metal. Not to say that it didn't reach its audience, this album earned the band enough success to warrant a recording of the release party of the band's 2006 follow-up record, bit it seems to be overshadowed by some of their contemporaries. In a time when symphonic metal was becoming increasingly orchestrated and grandiose, Lunatica supplied a straight-ahead foil that was just as indulgent and fantastical but didn't sacrifice any of it's mobility.

Wash, rinse and repeat. - 69%

Liquid_Braino, February 14th, 2013

Lunatica! Like Metallica, but CRAZY!

Wouldn't that be something. No, this gang are part of the whole 'corset metal' scene that was spreading like wildfire back in the early 00's. I mean, look at them, there's even the requisite bald man in the background. As for whether they lean towards the gothic side or symphonic angle, in this case it's clearly the latter musically, while lyrically both uplifting and downbeat lyrics are utilized. With their pop-leaning followup, The Edge of Infinity, being my introduction to the band, I wasn't anticipating much in terms of quality outside of maybe a murkier production, so after a few songs in I was actually enjoying it simply because it actually rocks a bit, certainly compared to their next release.

Listening to the album as a whole, though, results in its flaws eventually revealing themselves, and there's no shortage of them, but I will say that the production itself is fine. Without a doubt a it's a substantial improvement over their debut, although considering how atrocious Atlantis sounds, that wasn't exactly a major hurdle to jump. The synthesized orchestration, which may have sounded suitably bombastic and lush a decade ago, hasn't aged particularly well. The prominent placement of the keyboards in the mix doesn't do the songs any favors as a result, draping them with thick layers of chintziness.

What hurts the album most though, emerging to light by about the halfway point, is just how similar most of these songs are to each other. Almost every tune operates off open E chord palm muted riffs and progressions at mid tempo to upbeat pacing. Only the title track, a ballad no less, offers a bit of variety. When I'm dealing with something like this, I always try to place myself into the band's creative process. "This song is great, let's do another one just like it, and then another one....fuck it let's just do a whole bunch of the same shit." Yeah, it boggles my mind.

Andrea herself isn't bad at all. Nothing special, but for the most part it works in that her voice itself is reasonably endearing. Not as technically accomplished as, say, Liv Kristine, but hell I find that Liv's voice has all the appeal of a horse's ass compared to this chick, at least concerning the Theatre Of Tragedy days.

As for the band, with the exception of the keyboardist spazzing out on the synthesizer, the musicians keep things pretty forthright and simple, with only a few tunes changing things up on occasion. That isn't to say the album is nothing more than a repetitive snooze-fest, as individually, at least half of them are catchy enough to sing in the shower. Belting out "Give us this day all that you showed me, the power and the glory 'til thy kingdom come!" while soaping up your privates is a prime way to start the morning. As well, after a couple of listens, I could discern some of the tracks that best represent the band, such as the killer vocal hook of "Still Believe", the punchy zest of "The Spell" and the climactic surge of "A Little Moment of Desperation".

The trouble is, that initial spin of the entire release is crucial in presenting the band, and they come off as a one trick pony. By track nine I couldn't believe they were still kick-starting their damn songs with open E shit yet again. How do they not get bored out of their minds? It's like some collective tunnel vision they possessed during this recording. They had an idea...one fucking idea...and that's all that matters, except for the curveball they threw in regarding the ballad, which sheds a little light into the direction they would veer in the future.

So it's a grower, thanks to some good songs that would have stood out even more if there was more variety to Fables & Dreams. I would also consider it their best release, certainly from a metal perspective, but it's not something I would rank on a top ten list concerning the genre they inhabit.

Hang on, this is metal? - 53%

Random5, August 27th, 2007

I'll preface this review by stating I have not listened to any of Lunatica's other albums yet, and this album has left me trying to decide whether or not I will. While technically the production and songwriting on this album is rather good, the album as a whole leaves me with a feeling of irritation rather than enjoyment whenever I attempt to listen to it as a whole. Each song reeks with sentiment of love, hope, faith and in general what I'll lump together as 'hippie crap'. It feels like this artist started out as a symphonic metal band writing a symphonic metal album until they 'found god' partway writing and recording. What it technically good metal turns a backflip and into something else through overuse of major keys and vocals which would be more at home in a pop act. 'Silent Scream' reeks of insincerity as respectably gothic lyrics are sung in what could be described as a passing or cheerful manner. 'Still Believe' starts out with a strong introduction but becomes a bizarre juxtaposition of strong metal-style guitar and pop act vocals.

My misgivings of the subject and style of this album aside, fans of the symphonic metal genre should definitly look into Lunatica. They show themselves to be capable of writing technically good songs, but those looking for something metal may well be disappointed with this album and perhaps this artist. Personally, I might purchase another album if it was out on the cheap table.

Questionably one of the best in symphonic metal - 100%

Desertcry, April 18th, 2007

When I first heard Lunatica on Epic Rock Radio, an online station, I had to buy the CD and give it a full listen.

My first thoughts were, "Man, the introduction is too long and the songs are average." However, I kept giving it more and more listens and it grew on me becoming one of my favorite albums of all time.

I enjoy the long introduction now and the way "Avalon" begins right afterward is perfect.

This album is heavier, more energitic, and of course better produced than their first album "Atlantis."

Even though there are hints of Nightwish and Epica in this band, Lunatica still has their separate style. Andrea is not operatic in style but more contemporary with a strong voice. In fact, from all the bands with a similar style, there is not a singer that sounds like Andrea. Some may say that she has a hint of Stevie Nicks in her voice, but it isn't as deep and harsh.

I'd have to say Lunatica's strength is in their song writing itself. They are all talented musicians, but nothing really exceptional. There are good guitar licks in this album such as in the song "Still Believe," yet there is no shredding. I find shredding guitars unnecessary in an album that is so well put together.

The keyboards are bold and strong in this album. They give the album tons of flavor and leave no room for cheesiness as is the case with some of the other metal bands that attempt to add keyboards and fail.

The middle of the album is the strongest with songs like "Still Believe," "The Spell" and "The Never Ending Story." "The Spell" has an interesting blend of harmonizing male vocals and at one point, a tad bit of death metal style vocals can be heard harmonizing with Andrea.

This album doesn't get boring. I highly recommended to those that are into atmospheric/symphonic metal with female vocals. Give 'em a listen on myspace.

A masterpiece from this unknown band - 93%

TommyA, December 17th, 2006

After listening to their debut album, "Atlantis", I was a bit skeptical about buying this album. You see, "Atlantis" had potential, yet was ruined by bad production. Here, you can tell that Lunatica have established their sound, and it's quite an appealing one.

The lyrics, as you can tell from the album title, are mostly about dreams and fantasy. You can also realize from some of the song titles. Personally, I don't mind, but some people might find it stupid to hear verses like; "At the end we will be heroes" or "Treasures and gold even a million miles away".

When it comes to vocals, I cannot ask more of Andrea. Cristina Scabbia definitely has some competition. In songs like “Elements” or “Still Believe”, her voice really stands out.

Unlike most gothic metal bands out there, Lunatica doesn’t use male vocals very frequently. They are actually heard only on 2 songs; "Fable of Dreams" and "The Spell". However, the male voice isn't very harsh, so I agree with the fact that it should be seldom heard.

All tracks are above average. The weakest is the remake of "Silent Scream", which I would give a six out of ten. The others are superior. Personal favorites are "Avalon", "Still Believe", "Hymn" and "Little Moment of Desperation"

I want to point out that even if you hated their previous album, you won't hate this. Lunatica sound more mature here. And, if you should buy their latest release, buy it only for the title track. The rest is all pop. This is the only Lunatica album you should buy.

Even though Lunatica's style is unique and unlike that of other bands, fans of Nightwish, Lacuna Coil or Epica will enjoy this album. I'd also recommend this band to anyone who's new to gothic metal, since their music is very easy-listening. Seriously, anyone who appreciates good music will enjoy this.

Major Improvement - 92%

John_Crichton, May 31st, 2006

Lunatica's first album "Atlantis" was decent at best. It suffered faults that could have been fixed by a good production, but was not. Luckily, they got someone to do it right with their second offering. Keeping the album under an hour, they managed to produce 10 tracks that keep you busy, never letting boredom set in.

The album starts out with "The Search Goes One", and narrative that basically explains the story that continues from the first album. The orchestral pieces in the track are well done, given that it's not even a "song" per se. Drums later accompany the orchestra in the latter half of the track. There is some vocals, but it is not from the bands vocalist, Andrea Dätwyler.

The second track, "Avalon", right away shows this albums superior production quality over the last. Andrea's vocals are polished and are not brought so far forward that you can barely hear the band. She is an amazing vocalist, and this track finally shows it. The drummer accompanies some orchestral woodwinds, but the guitars are hardly used. When they are, they sound great.

"Elements" follows, and this time more of the bands own talents are put to use. The orchestra takes a back seat (but is still used), and the outcome is a great track. Andrea's vocals are paired with kick ass guitar work that never lets up, though can be somewhat drowned out by the drummer. Being the longest track on the album, I'm happy to inform it never gets boring. It will probably get the repeat treatment on your CD player.

"Fable of Dreams", being the title track, has a higher quality then many of the other tracks. It starts out slower than any previous Lunatica song, simply Andrea and a piano. Eventually a male vocalist is added, and the outcome is terrific. The band joins in about half way through the song, resulting in a full on ballad that almost every artist in the "gothic metal" genre seems to include these days. This one luckily rises above the pack.

"Still Believe" has what I believe to be one of the most well done guitar riffs in the genres history. It's simple, but you can't help but bang your head to it. It isn't underused either. It comes back many times, and when it's paring with the drums, the song becomes one of the albums best. You’ll probably end up wearing out your CD player with this one.

"The Spell" is probably the second best track on the album. The band and orchestra take a 50/50 on who does what when, and Andrea's vocals, as usual, sound terrific. A male vocalist joins in for some quick lines that go with the lyrics story. The guitar sounds very similar to the previous track, but it somehow works even better. This song also contains a what you might call a "rewind moment"

3:00 - 3:35 is one of those areas of a song that you find yourself rewinding and listing to again.....and again....and again. For a long time, too long actually. It's the only case on the album where Andrea does a tag-team style duo with a male death metal vocalist. And it works, perfectly. I usually dislike death metal vocals, but this song could change that.

"The Neverending Story" is probably the centerpiece of the album. Everything works together in this track. It even has some "techno" elements. Andrea sounds great, and the band is at a peak performance. Guitars rage the whole way through. The only problem is an odd vocalist who joins in for some choruses here and there who I found to be a little distracting. She sounds like an older Tarja. Not bad for those who like "opera style" vocals, but it doesn't belong here. Overall it's probably the best track on the album. Another track that will be wearing out the "back" button on your CD player.

"Hymn" is an interesting track. I never heard the Ultravox version, but it's hard to imagine it being any better than this. It's a great track that had I not known was a cover, wouldn't have thought twice about it not being a Lunatica song. It works perfectly with the sound the band has developed for the album. Guitars and drums are as usual doing a great job of keeping you busy.

"Silent Scream" is a remake of a song from the previous album. The old version was a decent song, nothing special. The vocals were too loud and the band was being shrouded. It sounded like a tape recorded live performance. This is how the track SHOULD have sounded. It's the prime example of how you can take a crappy song and turn it completely around with proper production. It contains some of Andrea's highest vocals as well. Something she should consider doing more of in the upcoming album, she's sounds great doing it.

"A Little Moment of Desperation" closes the album on a good note. The guitars are paired perfectly with some orchestral pieces, and the drums never stop beating your head in. Andrea tries a different approach to singing in the chorus, making a word-pause-word-pause-word effect. It comes out nicely, not sounding like the sometimes-gibberish James Hetfield was yelling in St. Anger.

If you listened to the first album and didn't really like it, don't worry (neither did I really). Give them a second shot, It'll pay off. This was probably one of the best releases of 2004, a surprise, as I wasn‘t expecting much. Hopefully the new album improves even further.