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Comeback of the year - 90%

Silicon Messiah, October 14th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Limb Music

A second album by Symphonity. I honestly didn’t see it coming. The Czechs released their well received debut “Voice From The Silence” back in 2008 and toured a bit only to fall into silence. It took eight years for “King Of Persia” to become reality. And where the debut was a bit frantic and all over the place, “King Of Persia” is more unified as a whole. It leans less towards Nemesis (which was the band’s name before switching to Symphonity in 2006), and more towards melodic power, saving the symphonic elements for when they have the biggest effect.

The approach most obvious in opening title track ‘King Of Persia’; an interesting, inspired piece which builds slowly and efficiently to blossom after a while. It takes five minutes for a full scale power chorus to blow up. Long and winding, it has progressive elements and builds befitting a Maiden epic. Most of all though, it shows one thing. Olaf Hayer is back. The vocalist, previously of Dionysus and Luca Turilli, made his latest full length effort with Magic Kingdom’s “Symphony Of War” back in 2010, and even that was after a few years of silence.

“King Of Persia” is the man’s comeback, as well as Symphonity’s. Still, the opening title track isn’t really representative of the album as a whole, even though it’s clearly one of the strongest tracks on it. The band has been reinforced by more well known personnel in the form of Ronnie König (Signum Regis) and Herbie Langhans (Sinbreed, Beyond The Bridge). The latter - being basically everywhere these days - was also present on the debut, but to a lesser extent. He is now lead vocalist alongside Hayer.

What then goes to follow the opening nine minute epic might be described as standardized power metal; melodic and uplifting. Its base is in Libor Krivak’s guitar play, which not only keeps steady riff work, but also some phenomenal melodic work coupled with a dramatic flair by keyboardist Ivo Hofmann. The band is then completed by multi faceted drummer Martin Škaroupka (Cradle Of Filth, Masterplan), and of course König’s heavy bass sound. The latter makes a very solid effort on this album. While not in any special focus, König lifts melodic ‘Flying’ and speedy ‘Children Of The Light’ to new heights with dark bass lines that make the entire difference.

Basically, Hayer and Langhans trade lead vocals on every other song, the exceptions mostly being ‘King Of Persia’ and ‘Unwelcome’. Langhans brings a raspy quality to the band, handling the speedier tracks and the high notes of ‘The Choice’ and aforementioned speed massive ‘Children Of The Light’. At times, he feels slightly out of place at the more melodic pieces, whereas he handles the aggressive bits efficiently (as we know from Sinbreed). However, as I’ve already mentioned, a lot of this album is Hayer. His are the mid tempo parts. Unfortunately, among them are some of the weaker material (musically speaking), like over long ballad ‘A Farewell That Wasn’t Meant To Be’. We all know the man strained himself too much somewhere in the late ‘00s, and while he can’t pull of the high notes like he did with Dionysus or on Symphonity’s debut, he still handles himself with dignity and still makes a great album, the title track of course being his highlight. (That chorus will stick with you!)

The entirety is then built on, in melodic choruses and shining efforts by both Krivak and Hofmann in cool melodic tracks like ‘Live To Tell The Tale’ and the infinitely cool ‘Unwelcome’ that just bites and gets lodged in your brain. “King Of Persia” marginally beats the debut, in that it’s a more straightforward album that doesn’t try to be all over the place, and in that it sees every band member bringing their best. It’s a great album (to put it bluntly) without any directly weak tracks. It’s the comeback of the year and it will put Symphonity back on the power metal map. Hopefully to stay.

Standout tracks: King Of Persia, In The Name Of God, Live To Tell The Tale, Unwelcome