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The sun rises forever over paradise - 92%

Demon Fang, June 8th, 2021

Honestly ladies and gentlemen, the best soundtrack to a lovely walk around the park with your golden retriever is Trust Your Soul, the second album from Ukranian power metallers, Sunrise. So much about this album is so full of pep that it could very well be the metal equivalent of Wham! Whether it’s fluttering through with double kicks and palm mutes galore or it opts for a more mid-paced approach, damn near every single melody is full of the kind of feel-good joy that it elevates the mood of the room around you. All of this is particularly emphasized by the standout hit, “All This Time” – a cavalcade of late-90s and early-2000s Europower tropes cut from the same cloth as their western cousins, Sonata Arctica and Stratovarius, all manifesting into a densely melodic affectation that seeps into your head and will not leave you the fuck alone. By the end, its energetic composition glows like a fresh sunrise on a beautiful day.

The secret majesty behind this album are in the melodies. I swear, there are like five different hooks working throughout each song. Carefully timed chords working in sync with a kinetic keyboard melody while frontman Laars throws out this infectious vocal melody, all backed up by drumming with a real kick, is only the beginning. Oftentimes, where other bands would simply play out the song as expected, Sunrise take it a step further with all kinds of subtle instrumentation that just worm their way into your subconscious. A riff here, a solo there, that are inconspicuously implemented; seemingly simple, yet effective in further hooking you into the song with a rather grabby inclination. It’s like these extra little notes from the guitar, keyboard, piano or vocals that roll right off the main melody ever so eloquently. Like a bunch of smaller melodies that stand out on their own terms, constructing a grander one that really fucking pops! While many of the melodies are familiar of the aforementioned Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica, Sunrise elevate them into a motherfucking art form.

If there’s any kind of weakness here, it’s the pacing. Not so much in them putting their best foot forward and having it decline over time, but more in how it declines over time. Something that shows more here, since the album’s over an hour long. The first eight tracks are an absolute delight – straight up 10/10 power metal. Between the kinetic shredding of “Man in the World”, the bounciness of “You and Me” and “Hey!”, the infectiousness of “Trust Your Soul”s main melody and “Dreamer Online”s pep, the out and out energetic “All This Time”, it’s an absolute potpourri of every addicting quality of that sound. “Love Will Set You Free” manages to be a captivating spectacle that shows off their melodic skills while working with more emotional stakes and a more sprawling composition resulting in a real earworm of a melody, with a kind of smoothness equalled only by a freshly sanded piece of wood.

In contrast, the two ballads towards the end are basically non-descript outside of Laars’ expert vocal lines and a couple of beautiful guitar solos in “Tell Me Why”. They just about destroy the momentum of the album established by the prior eight tracks. I mean, they’re competent enough… on a basic fundamental level. You know, beginning, middle and end. Catchy enough chorus thanks to Laars. But other than the aforementioned bits, nothing really happens. The only bit of mercy is that in-between them is “Forgotten Secrets”, which brings us back to business, only to end on a rather middling note with “Invisible Place”. While Sunrise had largely schooled the master, Sonata Arctica definitely have them beat on ballads, let’s just say that much.

Lame ballads aside, Trust Your Soul is a damn, damn, damn good album. At a time where power metal sunk from being in a slump (I-I’m sure Gamma Ray’s next album will be the real deal!) to being in decline, Sunrise rise above expectations to create some truly powerful material with a kind of magic that really brings these melodies to life. Said melodies are written with the kind of intricate precision even most prog bands couldn’t cut, with just the right notes and accents to make them stick out in a subtle way. All of which is performed with the kind of feel-good charisma that especially helps them to stand tall. Basically, Trust Your Soul is as pure as the dress on the album art!