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Memoir Sonata > Seven Hills of Rome > Reviews > Dragonchaser
Memoir Sonata - Seven Hills of Rome

Elegant, Stylish Symphonic Stuff - 80%

Dragonchaser, March 24th, 2023
Written based on this version: 2023, Digital, Independent

This one came out of nowhere and blew me away with its style and substance, certainly a good start for Danish newcomers Memoir Sonata, who are so much of a throwback band they might as well have popped through a wormhole from 2003. The promo pic featuring lace-up shirts and Veronika Gamborg’s gothic pin up pose is something I haven’t seen for a while, and it immediately reminded me of when Elis and Edenbridge were hot topics in the power metal scene. Musically, Memoir Sonata are a dead ringer for the symphonic power metal bands that flooded in after Nightwish pierced the underground with ‘Wishmaster’ and ‘Century Child’, though they sound more like early Edenbridge to my ears, with a much cleaner power metal approach and minor gothic touches. This is in the same ballpark as bands like Lunatica and Visions Of Atlantis, only more propulsive and riffy, with quite a lot of careening prog metal changes that keep the songs interesting.

This also pleases me as an album that sounds like the cover art, as ‘Seven Hills Of Rome’ is a very stylish affair, not unlike a night at the opera in Italy, if it happened to be full of hooky, elegant arrangements and smart riff work. The keys paint a wonderful orchestral picture of where Veronika and co are pitching our minds to on fast, pelting songs like ‘The Ronin’, a tune that reminds me a fair bit of the last Visonatica album in the way it uses sleek Asian melodies, while on more dexterous cuts such as ‘Lawrence Of Arabia’ and ‘Ancien Regime’ there’s a similarity to some of Sonata Arctica’s better second period works, mainly ‘Pariah’s Child’, in how the guitars and keys play off each other. This is certainly more interesting guitar-wise than most modern symphonic metal bands tend to be. Hell, the opener has more riffs in it than the whole of VOA’s ‘Pirates’, and there are no weak spots here despite most of the songs running at a galloping mid-pace. Veronika has a sweet, classy voice that is closer to Sabine that Tarja, although she can slip into her soprano range easily enough. Strangely, despite how talented she is, she’s not really the star of the show here. The guitar work of Martin Stage and Emil Hoffman is very impressive, with tons of sweeping solos and chic melodies constantly grinding away beneath each section, making deep, resonant art with ‘Opera Of The Magic Flute, Act 1’ and the angry ‘Pneumonic Plague’. The whole band is on fire here, but keep that fire contained so as not to overload your senses. The production is also very pre-2003, not a million miles away from Edenbridge’s ‘Aphelion’, and that just adds to its nostalgic value.

Memoir Sonata really surprised me with this. I figured it would be another boring, disappointing entry into the symphonic metal canon, but they actually pay homage to a wonderful period in power metal with ‘Seven Hills Of Rome’, and those who miss those days before corsetcore became a cliché need to add it to their collection. A very promising start indeed.