Album Review: “Chapter 1: Monarchy” by Ad Infinitum

Swiss symphonic metal quartet Ad Infinitum’s debut album, Chapter 1: Monarchy, sounds as grandiose as its title directs. “Infected Monarchy” opens the album with a dream like piano and serene strings that build up as Melissa Bonny’s beautiful, yet powerful vocals commence and the guitars explode. The song transitions between tense drumming and heavy grooves interspersed with tranquil tempo changes while Bonny’s vocals soar above the chaos.

“Marching On Versailles” is a dynamic track with militaristic drumming accompanied with staccato riffing that echoes a march. The harmonious chorus contrasts with the song’s hard driving nature, and showcases Bonny’s vocal range. “Maleficient” is a hellish track with its churning riff and industrial like percussion. Guitarist Adrian Thessenvitz unleashes a nice lead during the song’s midsection before the song plods to its conclusion.

“See You In Hell” is one of the more accessible tracks on Monarchy, with its slow tempo and melancholy yet catchy chorus. It is no wonder that it is the second single off the record. “Fire and Ice” is an emotional ballad with its haunting bass line and halcyon guitar riffs that complement Bonny singing of a love as strong as the elements. “Revenge” is notable for its galloping tempo and baroque guitars that create a dark atmosphere of a person on the hunt for retribution.

Melissa Bonny possesses an amazing voice and it is readily apparent on Chapter 1. Her vocals never waver and convey emotion that give the songs an extra degree of passion. The music is dynamic but with a pronounced technicality making the songs more enjoyable. The classical samples are not overused and Infinitum have a great sense of playing loud and soft. The production is lush yet clear, which gives Chapter 1 a full sound.

Chapter 1: Monarchy is a strong debut album that will impress fans of symphonic and gothic metal. The album is diverse, yet cohesive, and nine of the ten songs clocking at under five minutes. There is enough room for musical growth as the band does not overwhelm the listener. Ad Infinitum is probably saving that for Chapter 2.

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CD Review: “The Sacrament Of Sin” by Powerwolf

German gothic power metal quintet Powerwolf offers its seventh release titled The Sacrament Of Sin. The album is a dark, yet accessible as it blends gothic, power metal and symphonic metal to strong effect. Album opener “Fire & Forgive” is a galloping number with a bombastic chorus and shredding guitar lead. “Demons Are A Girl’s Best Friend” is a straight forward rocker that will appease gothic girls the world over. The saccharine nature of the song borders on comedy, but does not take away from the album. Things take a dour turn on “Killers With The Cross” which sounds inspired by 1960s Hammer vampire films. The stomping drums are instep with the dynamic riffs by guitarists Matthew and Charles Greywolf. This is not a generic track as there are several interweaving leads during the song’s midsection. “Where The Wild Wolves Have Gone” is a sorrowful ballad with lush piano and powerful vocals by front man Atilla Dorn. The Greywolf Brothers again offer stellar guitar leads that underline the track’s melancholy tone. “Nightside of Siberia” fierce riffing recalls viking metal stalwarts Amon Amarth. However, this is not a blatant ripoff, but a slight homage. The baroque guitar work and pounding bass drums make this one of the standout tracks on Sacrament.

The Sacrament of Sin is an accessible metal record with an extreme edge. Powerwolf adopts the epic bombast of power metal sans the pretentiousness of the aforementioned genre. No song on this album even approaches the 5 minute mark nor are there elongated guitar leads or drum solos. The musicianship is strong and the record is rife with shout-along choruses. Producer Jens Bogren does a great job of capturing the Greywolf Brother’s guitar chops and Dorn’s vocals.

In numerology, the number seven means completion. Well, here is hoping Powerwolf do not hang it up anytime soon. The Sacrament Of Sin is a strong record that should satisfy fans of power and symphonic metal. This sacrament ensues headbanging.

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