Released: 2010, BVM
Argentinean symphonic power metal master Beto Vazquez has assembled another all star cast for his latest magnum opus, the two disc concept album EXISTENCE. The album was originally released in other parts of the world in 2010 but has now finally received its North American release earlier this month. The guest list is extensive, numbering 20 in all, and too numerous to list here. The better known contributors would be Dominique Leurquin of Rhapsody of Fire and Timo Tolkki of Stratovarious fame. They are joined by a host of worthy female sirens on vocals.
EXISTENCE is an album that sounds like a cross between Rhapsody of Fire and Edenbridge with portions of Nightwish and Stream of Passion thrown in the mix. Clocking in at over 88 minutes, there is more than enough music to keep a fan busy for awhile. As expected, the music is ambitious, often gorgeous and vocally quite varied. Look no further than the majestic “Celestial Meeting”, reminiscent of Night wish’s “Sleeping Sun” but Jessica Lehto, the full time singer, is less operatic and more accessible than Tarja. Likewise “Freedom”, another Jessica song, presents the faster more up tempo side of the band effectively. In fact, I will say right now that Jessica steals the show on the album, forcefully demonstrating that the other guest singers were really not necessary.
Naturally, such an ambitious project stumbles in places, particularly in the meticulous, obsessed, and overblown songwriting and production. I feel like every note was fussed over, every snare beat analyzed, improvisation and spontaneity left at the drawing board. “Eyes of Destiny” is sung in an unbearable operatic style by Dusk of Crysalys and sounds like so many songs in this genre musically. Chief complaint though is that as good as this is, most of it sounds like at least any of a dozen bands in this style, which no doubt was the intent. I like symphonic, female-fronted goth metal in general, but man it is a genre that desperately needs an injection of innovation and this is not it. Still, this will probably emerge as one of the better releases in the genre for the year and any fan of this style will find plenty to enjoy.