Xandria - Fire & Ashes
Napalm Records
Symphonic Goth Metal
7 songs (35' 1")
Release year: 2015
Xandria, Napalm Records
Reviewed by Andy

Has it really been that long? The first time I heard a Xandria song, or for that matter a symphonic goth metal song, it was their Kill the Sun LP posted to the now-completely-irrelevant MP3.com. Fourteen years of experience and a couple diva-changes later, Xandria sounds a lot more polished, and their latest EP, Fire & Ashes, continues the trend they have evolved over the years towards more compressed guitars, more keyboards, and more operatic vocals. Alas, somewhere along the line they lost all the bargain-basement guitar harmonics they used to do back in their demo days -- but I might be the only person who misses that facet of their former sound.

The album consists of three new songs, a couple of covers, and two re-recordings of old material, which all in all is a decent listen. The hardest part of listening to it is telling it apart from Tarja-era Nightwish -- Voyage of the Fallen's background thousand-woman vocals, soaring operatic singing, and chugging rhythm guitar is a dead ringer for anything produced after Angels Fall First, and it's not a particularly strong song in any case. But Unembraced has a much better chorus melody, and Dianne van Giersbergen (no relation of former The Gathering singer Anneke van Giersbergen) does a flawless job with her material. It's much easier to appreciate her on In Remembrance or their cover of Meat Loaf's I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That), though, where the instruments stay quiet and she gets to show off her range and the emotion in her voice a bit. The latter track is especially excellent, starting as a ballad and then with the faster parts played power-metal style with a thudding double-kick drum. The last track, a cover of Sonata Arctica's Don't Say a Word, sounds OK, but the clipped anger of the original fails to come through in this one -- the band's perfectly competent, but their sound's just a little too soft-edged to pull this one off.

Fire & Ashes is a decent EP addition for fans, though new listeners would probably do best listening to some of their LPs first. Xandria's sonic polish is well-displayed here, and Dianne van Giersbergen continues to do justice to the band's sound seamlessly.

Killing Songs :
Unembraced, I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)
Andy quoted no quote
Other albums by Xandria that we have reviewed:
Xandria - Sacrificium reviewed by Joel and quoted 90 / 100
Xandria - India reviewed by Ian and quoted 86 / 100
Xandria - Ravenheart reviewed by Jack and quoted 85 / 100
Xandria - Kill The Sun reviewed by Jack and quoted 85 / 100
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