A Different Shade Of Darkness
Released: 2013, Unsigned
The Netherlands and symphonic female-fronted metal; they go together like pizza and beer or power metal and Italy. Take your pick, but Magion arrives with their second album, undaunted by the proliferation of female-fronted metal bands from their country. At this point, it is unlikely to find something unique, so it all comes down to passion and execution in this sub –genre of metal. Thankfully, Magion delivers on both counts. A DIFFERENT SHADE OF DARKNESS is ten songs of competently executed symphonic metal, modern but rooted in the central origins of the genre with more than a nod to power metal.
Again, in this genre the make-or break factor is often the vocalist, and Myrthe van Beest easily earns a place at the table. Her timbre is pleasant, range commendable, and vibrato strategically employed. You could visit several tracks to hear her versatility, but “Breaking The Silence” features multi-tracks of her voice along with doubled harmonized vocals. Van Beest’s vocals style is quite serious, and as a result is more technician than personality, unable to match the flirtatious qualities that Charlotte Wessels and Sharon den Adel are able to inject into their songs.
Album opener “Beloved Enemies” starts chugging heavy, but meanders down several paths from subdued, to orchestral, with plenty of dynamic transitions. “Ever and A Day” opens with a Celtic inspired theme, something I am sure I have heard in a film somewhere. Upping the dramatic quotient is “Body’s Betrayal”, a complex and cinema-scored flavor of ambition, with worthy parts spliced into a song that runs longer than is welcome. “Masquerade” and parts of the previously mentioned “Body’s Betrayal” include passages of contrasting aggro-male vocals, expected and unwelcome. The harsh vocals are one of very few missteps on the album, the other being that most of the songs go on for longer than they should, the band at times bravely stumbling into progressive territory best left inhabited by the Dream Theater’s of the world.
Musically, the guitar work is outstanding, providing rhythmic support when needed, and intense melodic shredding as well. Perhaps the real star of the show, certainly rivaling van Beest, is keyboardist extraordinaire Joop de Rooij whose stamp is imprinted on every track on the album. Equally impressive, is the quality of the mix, considering the band is unsigned. Taking into account the insane levels of competition in female symphonic metal, Magion delivers on several levels while falling short of the genre leaders. Nevertheless, fans of Nightwish, Epica, Delain, and Within Temptation should find A DIFFERENT SHADE OF DARKNESS worth exploring.