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Not Quite Comeback Of The Year - 69%

Larry6990, October 16th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Limb Music

This was certainly the most unexpected release of the year for me. Having been a fan of Symphonity's impressive debut "Voice From the Silence" since its release 8 years ago, the news that the Czechs would be returning in 2016 was a total shocker. And yet, all of the signs that this would be phenomenal album were there: Olaf Hayer on vocals (possibly my favourite singer of all time); more lead vocals from Herbie Langhans (who impressed majorly with Avantasia); vibrant artwork, production by Sascha Paeth (!); and a historically-tinged title in the shape of "King of Persia". However, I may have proved the theory that the anticipation of an event often eclipses the event itself.

Whilst "Voice From The Silence" was heavy on the neo-classical pomp, this new LP is heavy on the...well, heavy. They haven't strayed far from their symphonic framework, but the first two tracks in particular showcase a penchant for a beefier sound - especially the expansive title-track. The first 2-minutes are almost entirely made up of menacing riffs right out of Edguy's "Hellfire Club". Similarly, the straightforward rocking of "Live To Tell The Tale" phones in the epic tone a little. Considering the grandiose nature of their debut, it's slightly disappointing to see some tracks take a step backwards.

Not that there's anything wrong with the songwriting itself! If the broad and exciting 9-minute opener doesn't convince you, then the huge choruses of "The Choice" and "Children of the Light" certainly will. The sextet haven't lost their ability to write great, uplifting choruses - as should be the case for any power metal band - but they make some intriguing choices. The chorus to the title-track doesn't appear in its full glory until over 5 minutes in, but when it does - it's magical!

The lyrics are not as historically-themed as I'd have hoped. Sometimes they verge on being downright unpleasant! Would you expect to hear the line "Beating and raping a boy" from a symphonic power metal band? Worst of all, "A Farewell That Wasn't Meant To Be" was meant to honour the life of bassist Tomas Celechovsky, who tragically died from pancreatic cancer. But the lyrics appear to be lost in translation, and the flatline sound effect at the end just seems...disrespectful.

Olaf Hayer and Herbie Langhans carry this album superbly. Hayer's immortal voice sounds stronger than ever and proves why he's been the go-to man for so many Euro power metal acts. Langhans reaches heights not before heard by him - especially in the soaring chorus of "Flying" - he gives it hell. The other members are also pretty en pointe. There might not be as much neo-classical fret-athletics this time round, but some pleasing solos and addictive riffs courtesy of Libor Krivak. The keyboard work isn't as instantly impactful or virtuoistic and could quite easily be programmed. Thankfully, it's an admirable performance from Martin Skaroupka behind the kit - even chucking in a few unexpected blast-beats for good measure.

Due to filler-fodder like "Out of this World" and "Siren Call", Symphonity haven't quite reached the heights expected of them. This could have been the comeback of the year, but I feel Demolition Hammer will make a bigger impact when they decide to release something. Still, all griping aside, the galloping power metal hymns like "Children of the Light", "The Choice" and "Unwelcome" will most certainly whet the appetite of anyone looking to distract themselves from the recent Rhapsody of Fire disaster. Oh you didn't hear? Go look. But have "King of Persia" on standby to make you feel a bit better.

"Far beyond eternity, far from the dark.
Take me there, leaving sorrow behind.
Breathing my last breath by your side,
I believe I will be redeemed."