If you are somewhat familiar with science, then you might know that there are 118 elements on the periodic table of elements and all of them have a distinctive property. Similarly if you consider the genre of metal as a periodic table, then there is one element that is quiet unique and different in this genre and it’s called Symphonic Metal. Why is it unique? Because it is something that was, maybe initially, not meant to be a part of the metal genre, but someone somewhere took the initiative and as a result the by-product we all received was in simple words: Beautiful.
I have my own love of symphonic metal and there is something in me that make me want to keep on listening to it because well, its symphonic metal for once, and when you imagine a symphony being played in the midst of instruments such as electric guitars and drums along with bass and keyboards, I think the floor around you is usually full of loosened mandibles of the listeners.
The album under review is Bringer of Light by Damnation Angels which is the début album of this creative – and master-of-their-music – band from the UK. This band is just taking the world by storm because of their unique approach to Symphonic metal. The band was formed in the late 2006 and currently comprise a very talented and professional vocalist named Per Frederick (PelleK) with William Graney on guitars and backing vocals, the drummer position is unbeatable and man for the job is named John Graney, the bass is handled by Stephen Averill and last but not the least Dawn Trigg is on the Keyboards.
How are they unique? The band is famous for monster riffs, powerful drumming beats and unbelievable vocals all mixed and blended with orchestration. William Graney is responsible for injection of orchestral elements into whatever is the by-product and after perfecting their performances by doing multiple shows, the band decided that it is time to show the world what they are in reality. In February of 2009, the band moved to Grindstone studios in Ipswich, where they joined forces with a producer who already had Cradle of Filth on his resume: Scott Atkins. After tiresome and gruelling sessions, the début EP named “Shadow Symphony” was born. The EP received great reviews from critics all over, and even some of them quoted that they are one of the best symphonic sparks to emerge from the UK in a very long time. The EP went to go on sale worldwide and after touring all over the world, the band decided to give shot to a début album.
After multiple negotiations worldwide, the band finally decided on Radstone Music from Japan and released the album on 7th of March 2012 in Japan, with the rest of the world to follow, and the album was produced again by Scot Atkins. The album annihilated the Japanese arena with Amazon Japan having them on the top of the charts along with some very good and positive reviews. Their video, Pride the Warriors Way got more than 130,000 views in YouTube. The band then finally signed with Massacre Records for their album “Bringer of Light” which was released on 22nd of February 2013. So let’s get down to the album now and explore it thoroughly.
The Album kicks off with Ad Finem. It has the most perfect symphonic start I have heard in a while, giving you a feel that is reminiscent of a battle hymn, something you’d sing while you are gearing up for war. The drums join in at the last section of this short track giving you a little insight of what you are about to get from this album. For me, it was just the right way to start off an album that is pure symphonic metal/power metal feast.
Next comes The Longest Day of my Life and for a second you will think that the previous track is dragging on with violins and an orchestral feel until the power metal drumming kicks in and for the first time you will hear the hypnotic and beautiful vocals of PelleK… I can tell you right now, the vocals in this album will just make you want more and more every time a song ends. The chorus of this track is what the European power metal bands usually do, depicting the true power metal genre in a way it should be depicted and will also show off PelleK’s control and range. In the fourth minute things calm down and the song shifts into a pure metal/symphonic feel with power chords just dominating the ground. Orchestral elements throughout the album are just merged in perfectly with regular intervals just feeling like an orchestral solo and you will feel yourself hanging from the balcony of an orchestra hall but the only difference is: it’s a Metal Orchestra. I was really impressed by the technique used to mix the whole album with all elements just merged in a perfect way. At about the end William Graney will show off some mad guitar skills in the form of a melodious solo that will just greet you with open arms.
Reborn starts off differently, not like your usual power/symphonic metal song, but gives the feeling of a typical metal track. The drums, guitars and the bass just sound beautiful on the verses and as soon as the tracks shifts into the chorus you will realize that it is somewhat similar to something by a mainstream metal/rock band with a tinge of some orchestral notes in the background.
Next up is I Hope, which is one of my favourite tracks from the album with Dawn Trigg playing a mellow keyboard note in the beginning and when it kicks off it kicks off really good. I just love the drumming in the verses just before the chorus. PelleK will again show his vocal range off in this track and the guy has it, trust me. When he hits the high notes, everything seems to stop so you can appreciate his shining voice. In the fourth minute the track just mellows down, with a beautiful keyboard accompanied with a dark and sad orchestral arrangement – just hits you in the right spot, and it will just make you smile. The last minute of the track is a solo by William Graney with alternate picking and shredded notes intermingled on a scale before it ends.
Acerbus Inceptum will be the track which will announce you reaching almost halfway through the album and basically is just a short track being played on keyboards accompanied by PelleK’s deep vocals that really has the power to draw and suck you into a vortex and the feel towards the end sounds like some music from the movie, Inception. The tracks to follow are labelled as parts on the album with this track being Part I.
Part II, Someone Else will start in a very low and mellow way with PelleK’s vocals feeling as if a recitation from some scroll of sadness and darkness. I just cannot define how beautiful the orchestral arrangement is throughout the album and the work done is remarkable. This track is just a very slow symphonic metal track but it will be giving a feel of a ballad. The bass guitar is easily appreciated here and after the first five tracks Stephen Averill will really bring the playing down in terms of speed. And the 5th minute is a highlight reel by William Graney on guitars, not in the form of speed but in the form of melody because guitar players usually like showing off their speed skills but here we will hear notes that totally follow the feel of the song, the vocals and the overall ambiance being followed in this track.
Part III is called Bringer of Light and it takes the album back to its genre of power metal intermingled with symphonic elements. And if you guys are power metal fans then to explain the feel of this track I would like to mention “Sonata Arctica” because with my eyes closed during this track I was having difficulty identifying the difference between both. For being the title of the album this track does full justice to the album and its name.
Part IV Shadow Symphony is also a continuation of the tracks that started by Acerbus Inceptum and honestly speaking the album since then has entered a totally different dimension in terms of musical quality and when PelleK recites “Shadow Symphony” the accompanying “Hoo” feels as if he is standing in front of multiple Japanese Samurais who are acknowledging what he is saying. The fourth minute interval is just the familiar keyboard notes being played throughout the album by Dawn Trigg and you might think that the keyboard notes are not fancy enough but still, trust me; they just hit you in the right places because the way they sound is brilliant and sweet and that’s what really matters.
Reaching almost the end No Leaf Clover is like an oriental declaration of war, with all the fully prepared Samurai set to ride their horses but with metal in it. It feels as if the village from where this army is about to erupt, everyone has symphony in their soul, and power in their hearts, and hence the combination of power with symphonic metal. The keyboard work is similar to what we’ve been hearing but the difference is in the solo by William as he really plays the screaming notes I’ve been waiting for throughout the album. Aggressive vocals in this track shows us his side of being aggressive as a metal vocalist and not just reaching high notes but also explaining to us clearly how versatile he is as a vocalist.
Pride the Warriors Way marks the end of the album and is one of the best ways to end an album and I am not just saying that – you have to hear it to believe it. For this track I would like you to just imagine a village in Japan that has been attacked a numerous times by rebels and now the villagers are just gearing up to have revenge on the rebels, more like a story from the famous movie “Seven Samurai”.
The track just starts off in the most beautiful way with that Japanese instrument with strings and the fusion of electric guitars and drums all just too damn perfect. And you continuously hear the plucking of the ancient Japanese instrument along with a powerful guitar riff and blast beats. PelleK starts telling you of a story with his beautiful vocals and the word beautiful is not doing justice to this man’s abilities because he is far away from just being beautiful in his vocals. The 4th minute of this track just brings everything down to a real oriental feel, with drums thumping and violins and orchestra just mixed together and you can also hear the cries of the samurai in the background. I literally got some goose bumps from this part. William just brings a solid guitar solo into the act that I was not expecting at all and the missing link is perfectly filled by him. It is hard to produce a track that makes you run a story in your head and lets you visualize just about everything related to the music being played. The track ends in a similar way it began, with continuous plucking of instruments in an oriental way with the cries of Samurai in the background accompanied by mysterious female vocals just doing the trick.
To summarize everything, if the brain had a G-Spot, the album would be hitting that spot and you will be having pure and sheer orgasms of Symphonic variety, of course, if you are a true Symphonic metal fan. The musicians who have contributed to this album are way ahead of what they actually are, and maybe they are yet to discover their own potential because this clearly is one of the best symphonic metal albums I have listened to after a very long time and this not enough because I want more and you would too. This album will be a really hard competition for other Symphonic metal bands because I am pretty sure no one can produce what they did at the end of the album, so goodbye my jaw, goodbye to your jaws as well.