Released: 2015, Napalm Records
Xandria has issued a little stop-gap EP (while they work on the new album) and it has some merit so I thought I’d give it a quick review.
This is the second release with Diane Van Giersbergen and the FIRE & ASHES EP is quite decent. It consists of three new songs, two cover tunes and two remakes of older Xandria songs. The 35-minute EP has cool cover art so it is a nice package for fans.
The new songs are as strong as anything on their last two albums with no major change in style. I hope they do not issue them on the new studio album because that would diminish the uniqueness and overall value of FIRE & ASHES. It would be better if they stayed as exclusive to this EP but if the new songs are any indication of the new album, it is going to be excellent.
The cover tunes are fun especially the Meatloaf cover it is more innovative than them covering Sonata Arctica which is not really a stretch of the imagination or high on the list of creative things to do. However, Xandria still nails the Sonata Arctica classic ‘Don’t Say A Word’ and symphonizes it. That is a word I just made up.
The remakes are very interesting because around 2007 they took a four to five year break and when they returned in 2012 with NEVERWORLD’S END they had a significantly different approach, sound and a new singer. These remakes of the older versions are considerably different to my ears. Fans will have a good time comparing the remakes sung by Diane to the originals sung by Lisa Middlehauve. The newer versions are more symphonic and bombastic.
I’m a fan of the band so I really enjoyed this but it is probably really only mandatory for die-hard fans. If you want to learn more about the band I’d start with one of the full-length studio albums instead.