These Slovakian synth/power metallers are back with a pulse-pounding album in the vein of Nightwish, Xandria and Delain; albeit with a harsh vocal influence that recalls classic Theatre Of Tragedy. The music itself is not quite as forlorn though, going for an obvious early Nightwish vibe. Far Beyond The Stars marks the band’s first recording in several years, their last offering being the debut Atlantis in 2015. Hefty lead riffs are offered in a sort of Once style fashion, though the synths are heavily played up in as I stated before; and early Nightwish fashion. In other words, the disc can be a bit thrashy and a little harsh, but still quite beautiful in retrospect. Regardless of that, this record is a mere appetizer for something much larger which might come out later this year or possibly the next.
In any case, we are given four original songs as well as a piano version of the album’s title track and an unreleased demo from far before the band’s debut. One of the original songs is just an intro called “The Awakening” which really could have been tacked onto the album’s title track. Taking out the intro, we are only left with three well-executed tunes. The title track is quite solid, featuring a decent guitar and keyboard solo, which work to give the piece a little depth. Additionally, there is definitely a classic Nightwish feel to Simona’s vocal approach here. I feel that fans of female-fronted opera metal will love it. Not to mention Derick’s growls, which give an added muscle to the performance. “Travelers” seems to throw Wishmaster/Oceanborn together with Once, which amounts to a very catchy, yet familiar verse/chorus texture. You know what you’re getting here and you’re going to like it. The next track here is performed entirely in the band’s native, which comes off quite beautiful; all things considered. Though I cannot personally decipher the piece, I can sense a great deal of passion behind these lyrics and vocal lines. There’s a sort of romantic feeling in a few of Simona’s lines, though it’s a much different sort of performance than the English-language tracks. It definitely fits, however. The piano version of the title track follows as the last of the band’s new material featured here, creating more of an Evanessence friendly ballad. It’s quite obvious that this isn’t really my thing and I much prefer the original, but it’s certainly not a bad performance, and it comes off quite authentic.
The last cut here is “Dawn Of War” from the band’s ’09 demo. With an obvious demo, it contains a fair share of raw sections; but seems to entail a more interesting band than what I’ve been handed. The music here sounded more like classic gothic metal, early Sirenia or Graveworm with some clean female vocal sections in the background, rather than dominating the performance. This track literally reminds me how much I love that traditional neoclassical influenced gothic metal sound, and makes me a bit upset at the obvious sound change. There’s no question that this is the song that caught my attention the first time I heard the EP and during this second playthrough, I’m even more mesmerized. It would be really cool if these guys could balance the current style with the approach in “Dawn Of War” as that would be something not currently done in this genre. There are an awful lot of Nightwish clones out there, but I think people would really flip out if a future recording contained tracks with this level of pronounced heaviness as well as the more operatic material featured on this EP. It would certainly help the band to ascend a bit above their peers, but would give Simona much less time on the vocal end of things. I’m not sure how she’d feel about that.
If you’re not into modern gothic metal, this probably won’t be your thing. Even so, definitely listen to “Dawn Of War” as that is the kind of gothic metal that I remember drowning myself in around my early twenties. Battlelore’s early demos sounded strangely similar. I’ve always wondered why these bands change from something heavy and intricate to a more simplistic and accessible sound?
(6 Tracks, 25:00)