a year ago, I received and listened to the German symphonic band Xandria’s full length album ‘Sacrificium’, an album I had the
pleasure to review. Although it was a mixed bag, I remember it for the good
that it was, especially with regard to Dianne
van Giersbergen’s vocal range and
versatility. While this album was not perfect, it was a decently good one, and so
I was excited to review the band’s follow-up record ‘Fire and Ashes’.
start with the artwork, Xandria seems to have a love affair with things on fire,
as seen previously with the Phoenix representing the imagery of the melody.
This time too, they have used an identical concept, except that now, a violin
is on fire instead of a bird. This does not mean that the artwork is bad, but
it is indeed monotonous as it gives off a sense of uninspired execution with
stalled creativity. The first thing I noticed was that ‘Fire and Ashes’ is not a full length album, but an E.P. It
consists of seven songs, two of which are covers, while two others are re-animated
versions of their old songs from previous albums, thus leaving us with only three
new tunes on offer.
I liked and initially reciprocated to “Voyage
of the Fallen”, “Unembraced” and
“In Remembrance” considering the
fact that they felt like a continuation of their last album, unfortunately, they
get classified under the same “mixed bag” criterion the predecessor suffered since
they offer nothing out of the ordinary.
to the re-mastered songs “Ravenheart” and
“Now and Forever”, I really don’t
quite follow the logic behind this release. Apart from the fact that Giersbergen
has now replaced ex-vocalist Lisa
Schapaus, these two songs do not
offer any revision, not even in a single musical note. I am not against re-releases,
but I would have at least liked to sense a difference, which is simply not
present apart from the fact that the lead vocals belong to a different person.
I refuse to do a comparison between either vocalist since they are equally
unique in their own way. As a listener, I am almost convinced that they just re-mastered
the original by re-recording the vocals.
the cover songs, Sonata Arctica’s “Don’t Say a Word” and the evergreen “I Would Do Anything For Love” by Meat Loaf just did not work for me. They
feel like completely unnecessary additions to this E.P since they lack both the
core “Alpha” musical element as well as the intensity of emotion that forged
these masterpieces. Giersbergen’s voice is very beautiful, but does
not the operatic beauty that made Meat Loaf’s version this epic. It was his
ability to wear his heart on his sleeve and make you and I touch a first person’s
emotional state of mind.
as bonus tracks following ‘Sacrificium’
and be done with, rather than release them with covers and re-masters stuffed
in to fill in the gaps. It feels forced, lackadaisical and completely uncalled
for from a band gifted with such musical talent and capable of much more.