Xandria’s seventh release, Theater of Dimensions, lives up to its name. It is a 75 minute opus of metal, classical, electronica and a dab of pop. The track “Death To The Holy” is a catchy hard rocker with a folk influence. That folk influence continues on the mournful ballad “Forsaken Love.” Dianne van Giersbergen’s soothing vocals complement the downtuned guitars and choppy string sample. Things take a turn for the heavy on “We Are Murderers (We All)” which features Soilwork vocalist Bjorn Strid. Guitarists Marco Heubaum and Philip Restemeier throw out some solid leads and the riffs are satisfactory, but a bit tame by metal standards. Of course, Xandria is not an extreme metal act so any hopes of blast beats and Slayer type riffing are pointless. “Dark Night Of The Soul” is a hidden gem on Theater. This haunting ballad begins with Van Giersbergen’s vocals accompanied by a piano, before the drums and guitar kick in. The track maintains a steady beat with a beautiful guitar solo for good measure. There is a doom metal influence at the start of “When The Walls Came Down.” The choir samples accentuate the sorrowful mood on this track before the band transitions into a mid-tempo groove. The 14 minute long title track concludes the record in grandiose fashion. The classical samples are again used to melodramatic effect, with van Giersbergen’s operatic vocals heightening the experience of this track.
Theater of Dimensions is ambitious, at times a bit too ambitious. Xandria are certainly a talented outfit, but sometimes the vocals and samples are just over the top. There is little restraint on this record, which is not good when things become comical. Symphonic metal is rife with pretentiousness and Xandria is guilty of it on this album. The album is still enjoyable and there are some good tracks. However, at times the quintet does too much. When the band is on point, the songs are dynamic and compelling. The production on Theater is top notch and the vocals are loud and clear on a stereo. The only setback is the drumming is bland and almost sounds programmed. However, the guitars and samples are present in the mix and are not drowned out.
Xandria did not hold back on its seventh album. Theater of Dimensions is certainly a listening experience, albeit tedious at times. Fans of the band should enjoy it as the 13 tracks average to 4-5 minutes in length. Thus there is plenty of music on this record. However, people new to symphonic may want to listen to something a bit more palatable.
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