The Symphonic Metal scene is a crowded one. Stream a video from artists like Visions of Atlantis, Epica, Delain, Leaves Eyes, Serenity, to name but a few, and YouTube will constantly offer up multiple suggestions for bands “you might like”. The same with Spotify et al. Once they have your viewing/listening preferences stored, expect to be bombarded with similar acts. New artists can struggle to make an impression simply because the punter has so many to chose from. Therefore, someone looking to break through the barrier of established acts needs to stick out. Enter multi-national Ruins Of Elysium, symphonic metal, yes, but symphonic metal with a difference: for Ruins Of Elysium is fronted by an operatic tenor – the Brazil-based (by way of Norway) Drake Chrisdensen.
Like anything that could be placed in the box marked “Symphonic Metal”, Ruins Of Elysium have a lot going on. It’s not a couple of people with guitars and a keyboard or two. ‘Amphitrite: Ancient Sanctuary In The Sea’ is huge. It’s vast, larger-than-life, and for an independent act with no major backing: insanely ambitious. Founding member Drake Chrisdensen must have had some sleepless nights putting this one together, but the end result is staggering, and more than makes up for any loss of sleep it might have caused.
In ancient Greek mythology, Amphitrite was a sea-goddess and wife of Poseidon, she was the Queen of the sea. And it’s the imagery of the ocean, and all the surrounding myths, that forms the basis of this, the new full-length album from Ruins Of Elysium. ‘Amphitrite: Ancient Sanctuary In The Sea’ is a lengthy affair: running time passes 70 minutes – but the sheer variety on offer means that it doesn’t suffer any dips in quality and the time flies past. Although this is Epic Symphonic Metal, it has many different facets. With African, Japanese, Scandinavian, and Celtic influences abound, there is a strong New Age/World music theme running through the album. ‘Book of Seals’ for instance, begins with a soft acoustic guitar tone, almost medievalesque, Blackmore’s Night to an extent: and this continues throughout the track with the use of traditional instruments and huge, uplifting arrangements.
‘Okami, Mother Of The Sun’ is a wonderful five minutes that melds together traditional Japanese instruments and Japanese vocals by guest vocalist Föxx Salema, with galloping drums from Icaro Ravelo, and guitarist Vincenzo Avallone breaking out some killer lead breaks. There’s a great deal going on in this one, but Drake Chrisdensen holds everything together with a stunning vocal display that thrills from the off. ‘The Ocean Is Yemanja’s’ is one of many highlights on an album full of them. An Afro-Brazilian inspired epic that goes heavy on the percussion side and features two standout guest vocal appearances: Mezzo-soprano Rayssa Monroy delivers a beautiful performance alongside rapper Zaiiah who spits out her raps with real passion in her native Portuguese. Opening track ‘Alexiel – An Epic Lovestory’ is another highlight, a grandiose opener that also features the powerful ex-Visions Of Atlantis soprano Melissa Ferlaak on guest vocals. The standout moment does however go to closing track ‘Canzone Del Mare (Canção do Mar)’. Nearly 9 minutes of sweeping, majestic arrangements, razor-sharp riffage with melodic guitar breaks, and hair-raising vocals from Chrisdensen. It has a triumphant feel to it, and that’s the overriding feeling that many will take from ‘Amphitrite: Ancient Sanctuary In The Sea’: triumph.
Admittedly, Epic Symphonic Metal is not for everyone, but anyone from outside of the genre who is feeling bold enough to dip their toes in the waters of ‘Amphitrite: Ancient Sanctuary In The Sea’ will find something to their liking. Their collective ears and minds will have been opened to something new, that serves as a fascinating, memorable introduction to a handful of, potentially, undiscovered talents. Including the artist Sabrina Schmitt who produced the incredible cover artwork.
‘Amphitrite: Ancient Sanctuary In The Sea’ is available January 15th, more information here.
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Review – Dave