Imperia - Tears of Silence
Massacre Records
Symphonic Goth Metal
11 songs (57' 26")
Release year: 2015
Imperia, Massacre Records
Reviewed by Andy

Symphonic goth metallers Imperia have a new album out with a new folk influence and some endearing portions, but also many frustrating ones. The good on Tears of Silence is that it is definitely different; the cookie-cutter format of a lot of symphonic goth metal bands doesn't show up here. The bad part is that the band is trying to do too many things at once, and it shows. Their strong musicianship and often-excellent melodies are dragged down by impatient jumps into different concepts just as soon as they get a good thing going, without seeing it through.

The really ubiquitous drawback here is the production. The influence of drummer and founding member Steve Wolz appears to be present here, in that the mix gives priority to...you guessed it...the drums, with the orchestral arrangements cranked up to dominate the majority of the rhythm. The guitars are turned down; the solos get shorter shrift than even the tinkling piano, which is too bad, because guitarist Jan Yrlund can clearly deliver the goods in terms of a technical performance that's studded with pinch harmonics. It's not the fault of the melodies, either, since numbers like Crossroads and Motherlove are strong enough to power the album of a less ambitious band, especially the choruses, which are first-rate. For that matter, Broken is also an example of the band's ability to throw some voltage into their choruses, when they can concentrate on them and don't break off to do an unexpected bridge.

Helena Michaelsen's voice took a bit of getting used to for me, as it is deeper than most goth-metal frontwomen, but she has a terrific range and can sing operatic or clean vocals apparently with no effort; once you get used to it, she can sing the most brain-dead lyrics (for instance, on Spirit Chase) and still sound good. So it's inexplicable to me why so much needs to be added to her voice. Not only do the vocals get processed in places, they're stepped on by the too-loud orchestra and some layered whispering that show up at odd times. Just when one is ready to shut all that wretchedness off for good, the band relents and hands the listener better fare in the form of Wings of Hope and We'll Be Free, meat-and-potatoes tracks with flashes of melodic-hook brilliance and, on Wings of Hope, an excellent operatic performance by Michaelsen.

Tears of Silence is definitely not for everyone, though a lot of that is due to the funny mixing job and the haphazard songwriting that leaves a listener hovering anxiously over the skip button. If one wants to listen to a more adventurous goth metal band than average, a few of the tracks on here will make up for many of the duds.

Killing Songs :
Motherlove, Wings of Hope
Andy quoted 69 / 100
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