Label: Pure Steel Recrods
I stumbled across this Zandelle album whilst reading through a list of releases and was intrigued by the description I found on last.fm which described them as a band that “successfully bridges the gap between epic US Metal and European melodic metal.” Now, this is a pretty strong statement. I’m not much of a European power metal listener, but I certainly can appreciate the sound and the overall ethos of the genre just fine. I love epic US power metal though, and have spent a good bit time delving into that genre, so this at least deserved a listen.
The album opens with a piano solo typical of the Romantic era complete with a speedy set of multi-octave arpeggiated chords followed by a shredding and ethereal neoclassical guitar intro. The guitar and piano overlay each other for a bit when both spill out into a cacophony of flourishes and mordents before fading out. But you can’t really draw any conclusions yet, because the album doesn’t really start until the second track, which kicks off with a fiery riff played over a set of frenzied double kick drums. And based on the sound right here at this point, I can certainly hear the epic US power metal vibe. And when the vocals first come in shortly after, you can sort of hear some similarity with the nasal vocals of Manilla Road’s Mark Shelton. But if you used this alone as the basis of purchasing the album, you would be sorely disappointed, as this is about the extent of the similarities you will find with epic US power metal.
The remainder of the album is very much power metal of the European style, replete with vocal harmonies sung by choirs, bombastic percussion, and all the high-mixed synths you can fit in the studio. And in spite of the aggression on a lot of the riffs, at the end of the day, this is still pretty polished stuff, nicely produced in a well-kept studio. So if you like that sort of thing, Zandelle do it decently well. They seem to incorporate a lot of the standard power metal tropes: duelling keyboard and guitar solos, vocal hooks on the higher registers with backing vocals, as well as the softer and cleaner interludes between heavier sections. But even though this album is enjoyable as far as power metal goes, it lacks anything salient that would make it stand out amidst the hundreds of other power metal releases. It certainly has its moments though: the title track as well as the epic closing track are wonderful and worth the time of any power metal fan.
But that certain lack of something on this album (whatever it may be) certainly isn’t for a lack of effort. You would be hard-pressed to find their musicianship lacking in any way, and they definitely went above and beyond to really create some overpowering sections. The vocal arrangements alone denote a serious commitment and the guitar work leaves little to be desired. If you go into this expecting some decent power metal, you will have your expectations met. If you are expecting something new, you may leave a little empty handed. And if you go in expecting anything like epic US power metal, you will probably not even make it to the third track.
Check ’em out here: http://www.zandelle.net/