Released: 2015, Self Released
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
I have been following the work of John Connor and Shonagh Lyons since they collaborated on John’s Gate XIII project. Shonagh contributed guest vocals on the ‘Once Upon a Time’ EP, an interesting release, which showed a lot of promise but was still quite rough around the edges. They went on to form Selene, initially as a two piece, but later they gathered a full band around them (bass player and drummer) freeing up John to concentrate on the guitar and keys.
Since their debut EP in 2013 they have steadily improved and tightened up their sound. ‘The Forgotten’ is their long awaited debut album, which effectively demonstrates how far they have leaped forward since that first EP.
Opener ‘Dorian’ features restrained operatics which stop just short of being bombastic, instead keeping to a more gothic sound and sounds totally slick. ‘Paradise Over’, the first of three tracks to also feature on the EP released last year, takes the drama a step further with a sweeping choral intro leading into a galloping epic.
There is a breather for ‘Never-Ending Silence’ where Shonagh’s vocal style is less operatic, allowing her to have a richer fuller sound and showcase her voice.
The next two songs also feature on last year’s EP Release. ‘Not Enough’ is let down by an intro too lengthy for a mid-album spot, but ‘Fade Away’ makes up for this. It is a full throttle charger, punctuated with delicate gothic keyboards. Packed with key changes and breaks it is as good as anything the ‘mainstream’ acts of this genre can deliver.
For the rest of the album we are into new material territory, starting with the gentle ballad ‘Sweetest Dreams’, followed by the neoclassical ‘Blind’ in which Shonagh sounds slightly ‘evil queenish’. ‘Our Story’ has the biggest metal balls of the album, while the prog-rock keyboard influenced ‘Blood’ come a close second to ‘Fade Away’ in being my personally highlight.
‘Memories’ takes the penultimate position is in track listing and tells of a symphonic metal fairy-tale before the ambitious nine minute show closer ‘Piano’ takes us on one last engrossing journey of soaring choral sections, flamboyant guitars and everything else expected of a great symphonic metal tune before winding down to the end.
I am pleased that Selene/John Connor have stopped making the mistake of releasing material sounds not quite finished. Hearing something so full of potential yet not quite there was a frustrating experience. Moving to a full band has benefited the sound and will also benefit them live. ‘The Forgotten’ is an enjoyable listen and will remain on my personal playlist for a good while. This is their slickest release to date and full of variation within the 11 songs. They have nailed it with this release and I give it 4.5/5. Not quite at a 5/5 because they still need a bit of extra polish but I am sure it won’t take long for them to get there.
Looking forward to seeing them live when they finally make it across the water from Northern Ireland to the mainland UK. Promoters of live metal take note!