Released: 2016, Massacre Records
Imperia have been around for over a decade now, and TEARS OF SILENCE is the band’s fourth LP. While the band members hail from all over Europe, connections to Epica place the band’s roots in The Netherlands, the motherland of symphonic female-fronted metal. Yes, if you are new to Imperia (as I am), they are yet another in a long line of female-fronted metal. Heavy riffs and bombastic keyboards are obviously important to this sub-genre, but the crux of success is how good is the singer? Imperia is fortunately gifted with an outstanding frontwoman in Norwegian singer Helena Iren Michaelsen.
Musically, Imperia is adequate, providing the necessary background for Michaelsen to soar above it all. She effortlessly shifts deliveries, range, and emotion to help carry what would in many instances be ordinary songs in the hands of lesser vocalists. The album’s two opening tracks are perhaps the most conventional and among the heaviest, with “Silence Is My Friend” leading off as one of the catchiest songs. Mixed within the many orchestral passages are elements of folk, as demonstrated on “Awake”, and “Friheten Vil Seire”, the latter sung in Michaelsen’s native Norwegian language. Actually there are numerous instruments employed on the album ranging from flutes, violins, acoustic guitars, keyboards and piano, to tin whistles and bagpipes!
Imperia does get quite folky in many places, reminding me of Lyriel and Edenbridge but also with obvious comparisons to Leaves Eyes. That is why it is refreshing when the band delivers some aggression, like the speedy kick drumming and tremolo riffs during the middle of “My Screaming Heart” or the Middle Eastern heavy riffs of “Crossroads.” No mistake, the album is ambitious with its many stylistic shifts and musical explorations, courting progressive metal in many instances. The 13 songs and 65 minute run-time add credence to the progressive claim and also demand some investment from the listener to fully absorb all that is on display.
Imperia ultimately does not offer anything truly original, but their execution is near-perfect and sure to be embraced by anyone that is a fan of the genre. Imperia is at their best when they take off the gloves and deliver heavier and less ambitious songs. The band’s kitchen sink approach can at times become frustrating, but the solid production and quality of the songs are self-evident. And man, what a voice.