I am a huge fan of Amanda Sommerville. The American-born singer has carved out an impressive niche for herself in the last decade as a guest vocalist extraordinaire. Her first big opportunity came in 2003 with Sascha Paeth and Miro’s AINA project – sadly that album was largely disappointing, Sommerville’s standout vocals notwithstanding. She’s provided further highlight vocal tracks for the likes of Edguy, Avantasia, Luca Turilli, and Kamelot, but the biggest surprise was the excellent duet album from 2010 with none other than Michael Kiske (!). An excellent slice of hard rock/metal, it was met with near-universal praise.
New project Trillium sees Sommerville reuniting with Paeth and Miro in a decidedly different vein than the power metal of Aina. Indeed, ALLOY is a grittier affair than we’re used to hearing from these luminaries, the album being a grinding mixture of traditional metal, goth metal, and a bit of balladry. Needless to say, high speed double bass drums and tinkling keyboards are nowhere to be found. Of course, Sommerville’s captivating and powerful vocals are the main selling point of the album, and she’s mixed well forward in the somewhat slushy production as Paeth and co. (many contributors on this thing!) pound out some, truthfully, nondescript metal. Still, “Machine Gun” is a great lead-off track, with its slightly more up-tempo speeds and sinister riff, and “Purge” is an interesting goth-i-fied rocker, but things peak with the catchy whisper-to-roar of “Justifiable Casualty”. Elsewhere, the ever-present Jorn Lande puts in a typically solid guest performance on the otherwise forgettable “Scream It”, but sadly, the last four songs slam the album to an abrupt halt, despite the above-average ballad, “Slow It Down”.
Sommerville really does carry the album through the first few spins, keeping you coming back for more as slow-burn tracks slowly reveal their worth. Fortunately she is more than up to the task, turning a naggingly average metal album into a memorable one.
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