Xandria

Album Review: Xandria – Neverworld’s End

A symphonic metal band releasing an album after a change of lead vocalist. It feels like 2007 again. And yes, just like with Nightwish’s game-changing ‘Dark Passion Play’, ‘Neverworld’s End’ is a whole different affair from previous release ‘Salomé – The Seventh Veil’.

First single Valentine is a perfect representation of where Xandria are going. There have been calls of “this sounds like old Nightwish,” but considering that Nightwish have not made a sound like this in almost ten years, it’s about damn time someone challenged them for the throne. Xandria are more than up for it.

The epic seven minute opener ‘A Prophecy of Worlds to Fall’ is as massive as the running time and title suggests. Double bass drums and dramatic string sections are thrown at you before we even get to hear new vocalist Manuela Kraller in action. More operatic than her predecessor, her grandioneverworld'sendse voice fits the orchestral elements perfectly. By the time the guitar solo drops, you would be forgiven for thinking that Xandria have thrown everything they have into the first track.

Thankfully, this is far from the case. ‘Soulcrusher’ and ‘Cursed’ are some of the heaviest songs of the band’s career; it’s refreshing to hear a symphonic metal band go this loud and not have their vocalist swamped by the music – in Manuela, Xandria have struck gold. Elsewhere, ‘The Dream Is Still Alive’ allows her to spread her wings as things are slowed down and we venture into beautiful ballad territory.

Album closer ‘The Nomad’s Crown’ is almost ten minutes long, and is remarkably even grander in scope than the opening track. Rollercoaster-like in its composition, its lengthy running time passes by in an instant. What is truly remarkable about this album is the growth shown from previous albums.

The Nightwish comparisons will be inevitable. An operatic vocalist, some power metal riffing, even some of the melodies sound like they could have been taken from ‘Oceanborn’. But Nightwish have since a) left that scene behind with recent albums, and b) become world conquerers. On the strength of ‘Neverworld’s End,’ it would not be surprising if Xandria are next.

This is a success story. A change in vocalist that will not be considered controversial since it is a step forward in every possible way. An album that sounds like it could be the soundtrack to the most fantastical of movies. ‘Neverworld’s’ End is a confident, artistically fulfilling body of work. If you’re a symphonic metal fan, hell, if you’re a music fan, you could do worse than checking the new and improved Xandria out.

8/10

     

About Scott Wilson

Having spent the last twenty years of his life telling his friends his opinion of the latest release by every band he has ever heard of, Scott is an enthusiastic journalist and keen writer. A fan of every genre of music, though his heart firmly belongs to rock, he has been spending far too much money on gigs and not enough on digs. Reachable by either email or Twitter where copious amounts of commentating and general excitement can also be found.

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