So-so return that doesn't quite live up to expectation...
I’ve lived with this album for a couple of months now, and I’ve given it a very fair listen. But I just can’t muster the energy or enthusiasm to give an exhaustive survey of Xandria’s new record I’m afraid.
The one word that springs to mind is generic. Anyone who reads Sentinel Daily closely will know I’m a fan of symphonic and power metal – a big fan – but as the symphonic genre gets ever more clogged with bands following the same blueprint it is increasingly difficult to find bands that stand out in the morass. At one point it looked like Xandria might be one such outfit – but on the evidence of this release the bog has sucked them back in with the rest of the female-fronted pack…
The first two tracks, Where the Heart is Home and Death to the Holy slip in one ear and out the other – solid stuff, nothing more nothing less – so it’s up to third track Forsaken Love to grab the attention.
Which is what it does, but sadly for the wrong reasons. Forsaken Love pricks up the ears because it sounds so much like Tarja-era Nightwish you’d be forgiven for thinking someone had switched CDs while you were dozing. But they haven’t. Like I said, generic. Similarly Dark Night of the Soul, despite actually being a pretty good power ballad (with a very good solo indeed) sees its impact weakened severely purely because it sounds like an outtake from the Once sessions. That said, Dianne van Giersbergen does put in a match winning performance on this song.
Call of Destiny at least has a bit of get up and go about it, featuring some spritely keys and spirited riffage, and the frantic We Are Murderers (We All) – which features a cameo from Soilwork’s Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid – is similarly chunksome, and features some surprisingly welcome death metal vocals from Speed. But after that it’s pretty slim pickings if you’re looking for anything other than competent, slightly dry heavy symphonic metal.
I nearly said run of the mill there, but that would be a tad harsh because Xandria do what they do very well, which is obviously a fact to be celebrated. But when so much of ToD sounds like a rough approximation of what everyone else in the genre is doing, there seems little or no reason to recommend this to anyone but the most diehard symphonic metal aficionado. Sorry.
Theater of Dimensions is out now.