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(Scarlet Records)

Phil Kane

phil kane

whyzdom blind

If you are into outfits like Within Temptation, Nightwish and Operatika then you are going to love this French beasty. Yep, it's another slab of female fronted Gothic symphonic Metal with a 'we-are-at-one-with-the-gods' complex.

'Blind?' sounds good with a production job that has just about got it right being not so polished that it nips the album's bollocks but sharp enough to let the album sparkle. The songs are pretty dramatic and heavy, managing to maintain a strong focus.

While some have complained that Elvyne Lorient's vocal is a tad too prominent, the quality of her singing is such that it is more than able to hold its own whether it is too far forward in the mix or not. It has a rich texture that softens the blows from her Metal band mates.

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As a whole the album has a very Nightwish thing going on yet there are passages that nod to the whimsical noodlings of its more pagan contemporaries. There are other places where the twee arrangements come close to being engulfed by the surrounding Gothic pomp and a subtle new age vibe runs through this album's Metal that is quite refreshing. However, the whimsy and the rich beauty of the vocals only marginally soften the edges of the surprisingly ugly philharmonic Metal.

There are infusions of influences throughout 'Blind?' that are quite subtle and take time to draw out. Aside from the obvious classic bent, especially Wagner's choruses, there are hints of medieval folk and Celtic airs on the one hand and melodic and power Metal, even hints of black Metal on the other with the electronic symphonics filling the void in the middle.

The last track, 'Cathedral Of The Damned', is the perfect summation of 'Blind?'. In fact you could say that everything that has been used throughout the album crops up in a concentrated form during this final epic track making it so outrageously overblow and pompous it is a mystery why it does not fall through your CD deck with the weight of its own self importance. Brilliance incarnate!

The overall sound has a big epic cinematic scope to it that has depths that could descend thousands of feet or it soars and swoops, having a full presence that really could only be improved by swapping the occasionally puny synths for a full blown orchestra. Now that would take this album from the very good to the absolutely stupendous.

Band boss Vynce Leff is an able orchestral mechanic who knows his way around classical arrangements and where they fit with heavy Metal. He has spent a lot of time tweaking and manipulating things into shape electronically. Luckily, 'Blind?' retains its soul where it could have quite easily fallen prey to technical wizardry turning it into just another soulless lump though it does suffer from being a tad too busy at times. His style seems to underlined with the use of a lot of call and response melodies between the band, the orchestral arrangements and the vox. Interesting stuff.

Of course, the same old problem applies here as with any of the hundreds of other Gothic symphonic outfits that currently assail our senses and wallets. They are all on the whole very good to the point that they all sound very similar. So whilst 'Blind?' is very, very good it remains no exception thayt it still lacks that certain something to set it apart from the rest of the herd so it's your money, your choice.

Check out the albums opening track 'The Lighthouse', one of the heavier tracks on the album, here:

or the album's completely bewildering trailer here...




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