Astralium – Land Of Eternal Dreams Review

GenreSymphonic Power Metal
Release Date23 August 2019
Record LabelRockshots

Formed in 2014 by frontwoman Roberta Pappalardo and bass player Giuseppe Pappalardo, Astralium are fresh out of Italy: the land of symphonic metal. Land of Eternal Dreams is the band’s debut album, marking their official entrance onto the metal scene. Completing the band’s regular lineup are guitarist Emanuele Alessandro and Metatrone drummer Salvo Grasso, but there are also a handful of guest musicians, such as the ever-busy Tommy Johansson (Sabaton, Majestica), Andrea Martongelli (Arthemis), Jo Lombardo, Stefano “Ghigas” Calvagno, and Davide Bruno (who are/were all fellow Metatrone members alongside Grasso).

Needless to say, Astralium aren’t your typical, generic symphonic metal band. They manage to produce a bright, unique sound and, while some of their influences are vividly apparent at times (Nightwish, Amberian Dawn, and even Hans Zimmer), they do a great job at maintaining originality. The orchestrations are broad and epic, but they don’t overbear the guitars or vocals, which is a common mistake in the genre.

The strongest aspect of Land of Eternal Dreams is the songwriting. Each song is dynamic, expressive, and offers something new. Additionally, a variety of moods and time signatures are explored. We have ‘Whisper in the Silence’, which brings heavy intensity, a soft ballad in ‘Breath of My Soul’, the blast-beat aggression of ‘Seven Seas, Seven Winds’, and there’s even the cool vocal feature ‘Ethereal Voices from the Forest’, which sounds like, well, a bunch of ethereal voices from the forest. Although, while all of these tracks have a noticeable theme, they all feature a variety of different moods.

I do have a few clear favourites in Land of Eternal Dreams. ‘Whisper of the Silence’ has some awesome riffing and the drumming, which is fucking killer, doesn’t sit still for more than twenty seconds. The pulled back first verse is another great touch. I also really like the end section of ‘Seven Seas, Seven Winds’, which is like the soundtrack to an epic, bloody battle on the high seas. Finally, the closer, ‘Hidden Conspiracy’ sums up the entire album nicely. It’s an all-around sick track, covering every emotion that the rest of the album features with a surprising amount of detail for a song that isn’t even seven minutes long.

I really don’t have any issues with this album. It’s diverse, the playing is exquisite, and the arrangements are colourful. In a sea of forgettable symphonic metal acts, Land of Eternal Dreams rises as a stellar debut and keeps Astralium afloat.

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Brymir – Wings of Fire Review

GenreSymphonic MeloDeath Metal
Release Date8 Mar 2019
Record LabelRanka Kustannus

I’ve said before (as I’m sure many others have) that melodic death metal is just extreme power metal with harsh vocals. Nowhere is this more apparent in Finnish outfit Brymir, whose rough vocals are the only thing holding it back from being outright power metal. The keyboards are many, the guitars are clean, and it’s epic as all hell. Axeman Joona Björkroth once again demonstrates his fearsome shredding skill (which is fortunate, because Battle Beast’s upcoming No More Hollywood Endings all but denied him the chance to play to his capabilities).

I must say, even if I try I can’t quite compare Brymir directly to anything else because of how blatantly unique it is. The closest band that I know of would probably be Wintersun, but even they aren’t very similar. So, in that department, Brymir scores serious points. However, even though each song is very dynamic, with booming highs to placid lows and everything in between, there’s a limited amount of variety among the song selection. That isn’t really an issue, though, because the songs are so fucking good.

Wings of Fire has a lot to offer for the power metal fan and extreme metal fan alike. The guitar melodies and solos are often uplifting and immensely impressive, but there’s no shortage of doom-inducing choirs and intense blast beats, as in ‘Sphere of Halcyon’ and ‘Ride on, Spirit’. Overall, there’s a fifty-fifty split between the symphonic and metal elements, which would make the music more accurately described as soundtrack metal than melodic death metal.

On a side note, one thought that I haven’t been able to shake is the fact that, aside from the vocals, pretty much every song sounds like a boss battle theme. Seriously, just try to tell me that you don’t notice it, too; all the orchestral parts and pounding drums make me feel like I’m about to get my ass handed to me in Dark Souls or something (yes, I know that there are no “pounding drums” in Dark Souls, but I digress).

There are few highlights for me on this record because it’s very much a team effort. That being said, the opener, ‘Gloria in Regum’, is my favourite track. It hits fast and hard, with chugging riffs and epic choirs, and the rhythm section shots are excellent. It also features Battle Beast’s Noora Louhimo (although you’d never notice her) and a wicked solo from Björkroth.

With three albums so far, Brymir has never failed to produce something individual and new. Wings of Fire is an exceptional piece of work, and its blend of electronics, death metal, and orchestras feels natural and allows a richly deep sound. This group has a bright future ahead and, if their next album is half as entertaining as this one, I eagerly await their next release.

Brymir – Wings of Fire (Ranka Kustannus)

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