The Gentle Storm - The Diary
InsideOut Music
Progressive Rock/Metal(with a lot of folk elements)
Disc 1: 11 songs (57:00) Disc 2: 11 songs (57:00)
Release year: 2015
InsideOut Music
Reviewed by Joel
Album of the month
The Gentle Storm is the all-star project featuring the mastermind Arjen Lucassen and the angelic vocals of Anneke Van Giersbergen. A mixture of folk music, and progressive rock and metal music. The eleven songs are written in two different versions, Storm and Gentle. I will be mentioning the Storm version, while the Gentle version is more acoustic and folk based with the bombastic symphonic parts toned down. The album concept is a tale of love, loss, and separation told through the story of two fictional seventeenth-century lovers. A Dutch sailor embarks on a two-year voyage, leaving his wife at home in Holland. The only way for the couple to communicate and keep their love alive during the long separation is through letters. These letters form the basis for the songs on the album.  Strings start the Endless Sea, and soon the soothing vocals of Giersbergen join in. The song gradually grows and her vocals takes this first song, to brand new heights. The Heart of Amsterdam you can watch HERE, I absolutely love the violin/guitar solo trade off. The video looks like a very cool day in Amsterdam, but also it looks like they had a lot of fun. Look for the lovely Marcela Bovio who sings backup on the The Diary. The Greatest Love, has our female writing her letter to her love, and the emotion expressed from Giersbergen to the changes in melody really draw you into the story being told. Shores of India, gives that eastern feel in the music itself. From the staccato guitar riffing, to the playful strings, that connect during the chorus, to the pitch-perfect vocals, this song is truly entrancing. Cape of Storms, starts with a solo cello before the rest of the orchestral section joins in. Much like waves in the ocean, the song and Giersbergen's vocals weave in and out, creating an atmospheric yet tense feeling, that something foreboding is coming. The Moment mixes strings with a french horn taking the lead, before a clean guitar melody and vocals come in. A double bass or cello(can't tell) is played behind the guitar and vocals for the first half of the song, before other strings join in. This is truly a beautiful song! The folky element at the end of the song, with the guitars that join in, seem a bit out of place with what came before it, but with typical Arjen's songwriting, every part has its place, and it keeps each song cohesive with the next.

The more progressive side of the music comes throgh on the Eyes of Michiel, while still keeping all the symphonic parts. Filled with dynamics and melodies accented by Giersbergen's vocals and the staccato string sections that alternate longer played(legato) notes. The Storm, is exactly that, from the first note to faster guitar riffs not heard earlier on the disc, song eight is the climax of the story, in my opinion. All the elements of previous songs intersect and manifest into The Storm. Giersbergen's vocals bring me back to her first two releases with The Gathering. That atmospheric mix of angelic and ethereal like vocals. This is without a doubt my favorite song on the entire disc. At the end of The Storm the Brightest Light has a real Ayreon(You knew the comparison was coming eventually!!) feel to it, during its more symphonic parts. Obviously with Arjen's creativity and signature songwriting style this was expected. Brightest Light carries the momentum of The Storm, and returns to the staccato strings and slower pace during the songs final minute. New Horizons, finds our story coming to an end, with what sounds like a flute in the intro trading off, with distorted guitars, before more majestic strings come in. The song itself is very majestic, and again pitch-perfect vocals from Giersbergen that blends with the music perfectly, where they sound so intertwined, that her vocals are just another instrument(kudos to Arjen for the usual stellar production!). The finale, Epilogue-The Final Entry closes things out softly and is truly the calm, after the storm.

Regardless of the version you listen too, the story is the same, the melodies, the consistency of the performers involved, remain unchanged. The Calm is great for the times you just need to relax to some music, but both versions can easily sweep you away to some magical place. The disc has everything expected from a release with Arjen Lucassen's stamp on it, but at the same time there are surprises as well. I will leave the discovery to your own imagination, and whether you get caught up in The Storm or find yourself relaxed in the Calm version, there is no denying one of the best releases we will hear all year!

Killing Songs :
The Storm and Brightest Light are my favorites, but the whole thing is amazing
Joel quoted 92 / 100
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