Fresh off a successful European tour opening for Christian metallers Theocracy, Italy’s Sleeping Romance have released their debut album in North America on December 3rd via Sweden’s Ulterium Records. Formed in Modena in Italy the band started to write songs and perform live locally. After the first demo was released some line-up changes took place, which leads us to the current line-up featuring vocalist Federica Lanna, guitarists Federico Truzzi and Nichola Bonavoglia, drummer Francesco Zanarelli, and bassist Lorenzo Costi. The band recorded their debut album “Enlighten” and changed their name to Sleeping Romance.
Federico Truzzi recorded “Enlighten” at the Lemonhead Studio and then the album was mastered by Roberto Priori [Los Angeles, Danger Zone, Vision Divine] at Pristudio. The incredible artwork was created by Felipe Machado Franco [Blind Guardian, Rhapsody of Fire] who really managed to capture the vibe of the album.
The band describes the concept for “Enlighten” as “a travel into the human soul who is crashing into the world: fighting, loving and to be born again”.
Upon several listens to Enlighten, it is clear that fellow Symphonic Metal bands such as Within Temptation and Delain heavily influence the band.
The album kicks off with the short symphonic intro titled Hybrid Overture, a dramatic and bombastic Nightwish-esque piece. The albums first official song is the uptempo title track, an energetic piano-tinged rocker with touches of electronica in the style of Within Temptation. Vocalist Federica is not a “mezzo-soprano” opera style singer. She has a pleasant tone reminiscent of Sharon Den Adel or Charlotte Wessels. The second track The Promise Inside is an epic and dramatic song that Lanna sings with passion. Despite the Within Temptation comparisons, the orchestration parts are extremely well written and not just a “ knock off” band. There is a lot of talent on display here that’s for sure! Soul Reborn is a straight-forward rock song with plenty of guitar crunch and a haunting vocal performance where Federica gets to show off her considerable vocal range. Free Me is a mid-tempo symphonic piece with some epic orchestrated sections and lots of catchy melodies. The album pace slows down for the haunting piano ballad December Flower. Federica’s vocals are the highlight here and she has a wonderfully emotive delivery. The song is not overly special but it kicks into gear when the guitars come in at the end. The albums flow of positive lyrical content is apparent on Finding My Way, bringing an energy and guitar heavy sound. The heavy guitars continue on the introspective epic rock of Passion Lost. The breakdown on this song is especially well done and will get you headbanging along. For those who like their symphonic metal a little darker and heavier, look no further than Devil’s Cave. The intro is fast and heavy with some excellent double bass drumwork from Zanarelli throughout. A chugging guitar rhythm drives the song and Federica’s voice is full of energy and enthusiasm. The bands excellent songwriting is on full display here with some bombastic orchestration and time changes. The albums final moment Aeternum brings things to a close with another short orchestrated piece. Some people may dismiss Sleeping Romance as “just another female fronted symphonic metal band”, but the band is ahead of the pack than most of the other bands of their genre and that is due to strong song writing and great lead vocals. Is Sleeping Romance entirely original? Of course not, they wear their influences on their collective sleeves but this is not a negative the music on “Enlighten” held my interest throughout and I never felt the urge to skip through any of the songs on the album. With the right promotion, Sleeping Romance could make a name or themselves within the symphonic metal genre. Although technically the album was released in late 2013, I would bet that they will be included in my top album list for 2014. Recommended for fans of Within Temptation and Delain.