[Metal/Symphonic] Midnight Sorrow – Pick A Tale (80%)

After two long years of waiting, Midnight Sorrow (Strasbourg, France) finally released their first full length album. This French symphonic metal band fronted by Maureen had a good feedback on their first EP “At First”. Maureen voice is very interesting, because she is one of the few French metal singer that can put high notes without pushing, reaching the same tones than Tarja and Sharon.
It is a 13-track album, lasting about 63 minutes and including three remastered songs from their original EP. I will discuss more about them later.
We get into the album with “Prelude of the Night”, giving this kind of mysterious feeling, almost felt like watching the opening sequence of Dario’s Argento “Suspiria”.  The album quickly and seamlessly transition into “Glorious”, a soft introduction to the band. Its good, it is not overproduced but it is also maybe lacking a bit of a “bang” that would like when you listen a first song of an album. The third track, “Between Sun & Moon”, is a remastered version of their EP. I like it, it sounds better but in the same time not overproduced or arranged.

They keep it simple, refined but simple, with a touch of Celtic flute. “Lost for Eternity” brings on the heavier tones, surfing even into some power metal tunes.

“Black Snow” was okay but if I compare to other songs, I found it kind of weak. “Number 6” brings on the power melodics, showing the potential the band and Maureen, really make me to get out my chair and headband with my (almost) bald head :p.
We then continue with three “remixes” from songs taken from their EP, with “Crystal Drops”, “Waterfall” and “At First”. All three well arranged and really enjoyable to listen again with the new tone. “The Place” was nice to listen, mixing between the symphonic and the power melodic tones. “Phaze” is the acoustic metal ballad of the album, making you prompt to take out your lighter and slowly swing your arm. It is a very nice track. “Treasure of Your Life”, the 12th track of the album is also the longest totaling almost 12 minutes made of several acts, blending elements of symphonic and power metal. With catchy tunes and drums that make it engaging, this is my favorite of the whole album. Finally, the last track “A Last Ceremony” closes the album. It is fine, reserved but kind of left hungry.

Overall, Midnight Sorrow first album worth the discovery. In times where symphonic metal bands are fighting each others via “faster, louder and fluffier” arrangements, “Pick A Tale” comes as an elegant and delicate piece of symphonic metal album that is enjoyable without saturating your ears.
The major criticism is probably the album may have a certain bland taste, I was expecting something a bit more spicy, a bit more “piquante”, you know something to bang on.
If you have to pick an album this month and want to get out settled paths, give a try to the band.

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[Metal] France National Day: A time to celebrate some French Metal bands

Today is France National Day. We celebrate the breakdown of the Bastille, a famous prison  that incarcerated folks from common misdemeanors to political dissents that dare to question the Royalty decisions. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back and revealed French rebellious nature. Up to today, French are notorious for their demonstrations, strikes and rants on any form of political correctness. Is not what metal is about?

I felt it would a great time to list some of the French metal bands I have encountered and before I introduce you to them, I would like to thanks Geo Theoneandonly (https://geotheoneandonly.wordpress.com) that have doing a great job in promoting small bands from the gothic and symphonic metal genre on his Facebook group.
Some people say that the French metal scene is dead and moribund, if even you consider it exist. If you think about absolute numbers (numbers of metal bands/inhabitants), Scandinavian countries blows up by far. But I would disagree with it and tell that such argument is valid only if you keep on mainstream and do not enters the rabbit’s hole and if you value quantity versus quality. Because deep underground, you have a plethora of very good bands that don’t have access to promotion tools as big players but have social media and crowdfunding tools to have them thrive and soar.
I have decided to include bands from the French-speaking parts of Belgium and Switzerland inside the list, as part of cultural and linguistical similarities in this list.
This being said, let’s start with my favorite lists, all bands have been sorted by alphabetical name.
This is an update of my previous post (back in 2015), I have updated some bands and added new bands too. Also if you like to learn more about French FFM, I would highly recommend to follow Femmes du Metal Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/FemmesDuMetal/?fref=ts). The admin is very good at digging such bands.
If I missed anyone, please let me know. Kick me on social media, maybe you will make it for next year.

Adrana (Tours – France):

If I have to say something about Adrana, it is certainly Anne’s voice. Surely the best French female opera voice in the French metal sphere and easilly rivals with other singers more established as Tarja, Simone or Sharon. A professionally trained soprano singer, Anne’s voice litterarly blew my mind the first time I heard. Up to date, they have three albums, with their latest “Foreshadow” released last fall. It is bold, gracious and elegant in the same time. If you are looking for some bold metal with an opera atmosphere and a soprano singer, Adrana is certainly the hidden gem amongst the French metal scene.

Alkemy (Genève-Switzerland):

Alkemy is a very new band from Romandie (French-speaking Switzerland). The band have been so far touring and singing music cover. The originality of the band is to host two founding female front-singers, Katia and Jess. So if you want to hear them, you will have to see them performing live.
If you want to judge their vocal qualities, look up for their cover of “Ghost Love Score”, my golden standard for comparing singers to Tarja. Very good start for a new band. Lets see now how they can transform into some artistic creativity.

Alwaid (Lille-France):

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Alwaid is a gothic/symphonic metal band from Lille, as we call in French “les chti’s”. They have a full album “Lacus Somnirum” released in 2014 and for a first album, it is very good. The female singer is fairly good and overall this gothic/doom metal atmosphere of the band reminds me the first releases of Lacuna Coil and Within Temptation, when the gothic metal scene was just opening for female-fronted bands. A nice group to discover especially if you are living in Northern France and Belgium (as they tour locally).

 

Azylya (Brussels-Belgium):

Azylya is a gothic/symphonic metal band from Belgium. Altough they have been founded in 2009, they have only one full-release listed: “Sweet Cerebral Destruction” released in 2013. Its style reminds me something very close from Evanescence, with a darker tone. Jamie-Lee Smit (the front singer) is very active on social media and one of the friendliest singer in Geo’s Facebook group. You should definitively try if you are looking for something in the vein of Evanescence a step heavier and darker.

 

Blazing War Machine (Marseille-France):

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Ever wondered how Dimmu Borgir would sound as a  French FFM band? Then you should try Blazing War Machine.  Irina knows to growl, and growl in very low frequency range, things than even Alissa White-Gluz or Angela (the gold standard in terms of female growls) do. Watch out, this is some brutal melodic death metal.

 

Bloody Melody (Tours-France):

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Bloody Melody is one of these new talents with potential. They play in a ground not too much, something more like gothic metal/alternative metal with their first EP “Gates of Mind”, that have this old good sound, something intimate but very engaging. Their EP is available to download on iTunes and have no news of any full-release album.

 

Darkonelly/Erzebeth/Marion-Lamita (Dijon-France)

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Darkonelly was a doom metal band from Dijon fronted by Marion-Lamita Peubey. She concluded Darkonelly and currently started a new project called Erzebeth. What I am still referring to Darkonelly then? For a simple reason. Opera voice with doom metal! Doom metal is always linked to guttural growls but this is first time I ever heard a soprano voice into a doom metal band. And a damn good soprano she is, pitching in very high vocal ranges. Marion one of the highest opera soprano vocal I have ever heard in any band. It is just mesmerizing. She is very talented to attract you to their first EP “Stories from Beyond”, especially if you are like me attracted to high pitch soprano voices. You don’t believe me? Listen to her track “Beneath The Mask”. If you have an auditory cortex that tilt on soprano voice, you will enjoy it. Add on top of it melancolic melodies and lyrics and I would recommend it if you want to “broyer du noir”. You can listen to their first EP via Bandcamp and give them some retribution if you like it. When Marion announced she ended Darkonelly, it was a sad moment but she said she will continue to do some metal as Erzebeth but also as a solo career as “Marion-Lamita” (https://www.facebook.com/marion.lamita.solo.project/?__mref=message_bubble).

 

Dreamslave (Lyon-France):

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Dreamslave is a power symphonic metal from Lyon. At this date, they have one full album “Rest In Phantasy” available. What I can tell? Well some fresh air, something powerful with melodic tones. Something you would expect if you blended Nightwish and Sonata Arctica together. Emma Elegy is doing a great job in giving some dynamism in the band. This brings a fast-paced, loud and enjoyable melodic power metal French band.

 

Ethernity (Brussels-Belgium):

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Ethernity is like Azylya another band from Belgium. Ethernity however is playing in another register and more into the progressive metal genre, just to warn you about it as it may sound different. They have one album released in 2015 named “Obscure Illusions”. The instrumental part is sounding awesome and Julie Collin-Spreutels voice is playing in another domain than symphonic voices I are accustomed to listen. A great alternative from lyrical voices and growls.

 

ETHS (Marseille-France):

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ETHS is one of the few female fronted death metal band that sing in French. More recently, the band were under the spotlight with Rachel Aspe’s performance in the French version of “America Got Talent” by bringing the growls on prime time. Surely it shook to see that girls know to growl too. The band just released their latest album “Ankaa”.

 

Heonia (Lille-France):

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If folks of Northern France know about (les Chtimis as we call them), they know about to rock. They were the bedrock of the whole coal industry during the 19th and 20th century and know what it means to experience the hardness and blackness of life. This need of rage and anger surely percolated into Heonia, giving a loud and tense metal band with the melodic voice of Marieke. Their latest album “Portraits” is available online and in physical copies.

 

Inhepsie (Paris-France):

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Inhepsie is another French gothic metal band singing in the “language de Moliere”, a very nice metal band with symphonic and atmospheric elements. This is some of the gems that you would never see in any French TV or even hear in the French FM station. This is lame, because there are bands like this that are very nice flagship of the French metal scene.

 

Lethian Dreams (?-France):

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If you ask me what I would recommend to listen when you want to just get into a spleen and dark mood, I would answer doom metal. Doom metal has this cathartic ability to raise my darkest side of me, filled with sorrow, melancholy and broken heart. Sometimes I feel to cry on my lost loves, on my lost friends. It reminds us how mortal we are and that we will one day all die. Doom metal was something big in the 1990s but receded during the last decade.
I discovered that band through Geo on his webpage and it was love at the first listening. It is minimalist, but hell it is dark and depressing. Add on top the soft voice of Carline, it gives this atmospheric doom metal that you need to drown your sorrow in a rainy day. The band has three full-albums, all of them with very high standard. This is certainly a band I would not recommend to those with depressive and suicidal thoughts but in the age of “emos/screemos/schmeemos”, this is a good reminder what doom metal is and nothing beats doom metal if you want to drop a tear on your lost loves.

 

Midnight Sorrow (Strasbourg-France):

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Midnight Sorrow is a symphonic metal band that I particularly follow as they are from Strasbourg, my hometown. So it is always grateful to be able to support local band, especially for such a band showing already some high-caliber. Surely, they don’t have yet a full album, just an EP “At first”, but you can already feel the quality of it. It is taking straight roots from Nightwish, Within Temptation and Epica by crafting the symphonic elements very nicely. Mauween has a very nice voice and we have some very good “Beauty and the Beast” duet here. Their first Indiegogo campaign to finance their first full-album “Pick A Tale” was a success and after some delay should be released by fall.

 

Oxy Hart  (?-France):

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Oxy Hart is what I call a free electron as she has mostly a solo career interacting with different metal bands such as Seadem, Nimrod and Experiment No Q. The caveat of it is there is at this point not a full-release or EP I can share but a video she guest vocalized for Seadem in their track “Cathedrale”.

 

Pray Manticore (Toulouse-France):

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If you are looking for something more brutal, like death metal with female growls, you should give a try to Pray Manticore. Still a band in their infancy, with an EP and a full-release album yet to be named and scheduled for delivery. Who said that French girls cannot growl?

 

 

Pyrah (Strasbourg-France):

Pyrah is another band from Strasbourg, so again very honored to support a band that has some potential. Very good starter with their first album “Where am I?”. The band is still not defining in a particular genre, but for me sounds more in the progressive metal genre. Give a try and see if you like it. If yes, go and support them through Bandcamp.

 

Seyminhol (Metz-France):

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If there is some genre and equivalent we are maybe missing in the French metal scene, it is maybe on the melodic progressive metal, something similar to Kamelot. I guess this is where Seyminhol is maybe building this niche. It feels a lot like Kamelot and if you like Kamelot you should give a try to this band.

 

Veil of Mist (Reims-France): 

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As I have previously mentioned, my list is fairly biased because I have listed bands I have been exposed on social media and clicked in their music. But it also mean I have a lot of them that went under the radar. If you are not visible on social media, you are not visible at all and you are missing an opportunity to be shared.

Fronted Female Metal of Europe nicely replied to my post and asked why Veil of Mist was not in my list. The simple answer is “if I don’t hear or see you, I don’t know you exist”.
Veil of Mist is a dark/progressive metal band of France that has some gothic and doom metal inspiration, reminding me a lot of the early days of Lacuna Coil and the Gathering. They have released early May their first full-album “Disenchantement” and based on their official video, it seems some good stuff I will put my hands on for further listening.

 

Whyzdom (Paris-France):

Finally, “la piece de resistance” as we call it in France. One of the best symphonic metal album this year “Tears of a Hopeless God”. Whyzdom is certainly a veteran among all other bands listed as it was formed in 2007 and have three full album releases. The band is from Paris and have witnessed three different front singers, one for each album (Clementine Delaunay, Elvyne and Marie McLeod) but Whyzdom is the French Symphonic Metal to what French wine is: it just getting better as it getting older. “Tears of a Hopeless God” naturally explored the symphonic approach by Vynce Leff earlier in “Blind” and brought this very nice piece of “baroque” that make themselves different from other Symphonic metal. The fluff and the puff that made Versailles so French!
Marie voice is just getting better and better and have less the “French accent” that Elvyne had in “Blind” and I believe Vynce found the winning formula for the band. For 2015, this album remains the highest rated of all the album I have reviewed on my blog, so it tells you something.

[Gothic/Symphonic Metal] France National Day – My selection of French gothic/symphonic metal bands

Today is France National Day. We celebrate the breakdown of the Bastille, a famous prison  that incarcerated folks from common misdemeanors to political dissents that dare to question the Royalty decisions. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back and revealed French rebellious nature. Up to today, French are notorious for their demonstrations, strikes and rants on any form of political correctness. Is not what metal is about?
I felt it would a great time to list some of the French metal bands I have encountered and before I introduce you to them, I would like to thanks Geo Theoneandonly (https://geotheoneandonly.wordpress.com) that have doing a great job in promoting small bands from the gothic and symphonic metal genre on his Facebook group.
Some people say that the metal scene is dead and moribund. I would disagree with it and tell that such argument is valid only if you keep on mainstream and do not enters the rabbit’s hole. Because deep underground, you have a plethora of very good bands that don’t have access to promotion tools as big players but have social media and crowdfunding tools to have them thrive and soar.
I have decided to include bands from the French-speaking parts of Belgium and Switzerland inside the list, as part of cultural and linguistical similarities in this list.
This being said, let’s start with my favorite lists, all bands have been sorted by alphabetical name.

Adrana

If I have to say something about Adrana, it is certainly Anne’s voice. Surely the best French female opera voice in the French metal sphere and easilly rivals with other singers more established as Tarja, Simone or Sharon. Litterarly blew my mind the first time I heard.
A French band from Tours, they have a full album “Ancient Realms” released in 2011, a very nice first album that have very nice melodics and symphonic structure, nicely blending  with Anne’s voice. Starting with “Fall of Ancient Dusk” that help us discover Anne’s talent immediately followed by “The Frozen Path”. Another track that I really like is the “Old Guardian” in which Anne is doing a great performance.
Aside from Anne’s voice, you have in some tracks the classic duet “Beauty and the Beast” that nicely blends in. My favorite is “Obsidian Collapse” in which Anne collude with what I call a dwarf growl (clear, acute and primal growl) that nicely contrast with Anne’s voice that have this tragic tone straight from Greek mythology. The band is currently preparing their second release for later this year and I can say I am waiting for it.

Alkemy

Alkemy is a very new band from Romandie (French-speaking Switzerland). The band have been so far touring and singing music cover. The originality of the band is to host two founding female front-singers, Katia and Jess. So if you want to hear them, you will have to see them performing live.
If you want to judge their vocal qualities, look up for their cover of “Ghost Love Score”, my golden standard for comparing singers to Tarja. Very good start for a new band. Lets see now how they can transform into some artistic creativity.

Alwaid

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Alwaid is a gothic/symphonic metal band from Lille, as we call in French “les chti’s”. They have a full album “Lacus Somnirum” released in 2014 and for a first album, it is very good. The female singer is fairly good and overall this gothic metal atmosphere of the band reminds me the first releases of Lacuna Coil and Within Temptation, when the gothic metal scene was just opening for female-fronted bands. A nice group to discover especially if you are living in Northern France and Belgium (as they tour locally).

Azylya

Azylya is a gothic/symphonic metal band from Belgium. Altough they have been founded in 2009, they have only one full-release listed: “Sweet Cerebral Destruction” released in 2013. Its style reminds me something very close from Evanescence, with a darker tone. Jamie-Lee Smit (the front singer) is very active on social media and one of the friendliest singer in Geo’s Facebook group. You should definitively try if you are looking for something in the vein of Evanescence but much darker and more metal.

Darkonelly

Darkonelly is a new doom metal band from Dijon. What I would have a doom metal band listed? For a simple reason. Opera voice! Doom metal is always linked to guttural growls but this is first time I ever heard a soprano voice into a doom metal band. And a damn good soprano, pitching in very high vocal ranges. Marion-Lamita Peubey for a first timer is one of the highest opera soprano vocal I have ever heard in any band. It is just mesmerizing. She is very talented to attract you to their first EP “Stories from Beyond”, especially if you are like me attracted to high pitch soprano voices. Add on top of it melancolic melodies and lyrics and I would recommend it if you want to “broker du noir”
You can listen to their first EP via Bandcamp and give them some retribution if you like it.

Ethernity

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Ethernity is like Azylya another band from Belgium. Ethernity however is playing in another register and more into the progressive metal genre, just to warn you about it as it may sound different. They have one album released in 2015 named “Obscure Illusions”. The instrumental part is sounding awesome and Julie Collin-Spreutels voice is playing in another domain than symphonic voices I are accustomed to listen. A great alternative from lyrical voices and growls.

Midnight Sorrow

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Midnight Sorrow is a symphonic metal band that I particularly follow as they are from Strasbourg, my hometown. So it is always grateful to be able to support local band, especially for such a band showing already some high-caliber. Surely, they don’t have yet a full album, just an EP “At first”, but you can already feel the quality of it. It is taking straight roots from Nightwish, Within Temptation and Epica by crafting the symphonic elements very nicely. Mauween has a very nice voice and we have some very good “Beauty and the Beast” duet here. They currently funding an indiegogo campaign so if you are looking for a band to support, you know what you have to do!

Pyrah

Pyrah is another band from Strasbourg, so again very honored to support a band that has some potential. Very good starter with their first album “Where am I?”. The band is still not defining in a particular genre, but for me sounds more in the progressive metal genre. Give a try and see if you like it. If yes, go and support them through Bandcamp. An interesting feature of the band is the particular variant of “Beauty of the Beast” as Stephany ensures both the clean and growls, that reminds me of both Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy), Vicky Psarakis (The Agonist) or Floor Jansen (ReVamp era), also note the good performance of Lucie on the drums, it is always nice to see some gender diversity aside from female-front singers.

Whyzdom

Finally, “la piece de resistance” as we call it in France. One of the best symphonic metal album this year “Tears of a Hopeless God”. Whyzdom is certainly a veteran among all other bands listed as it was formed in 2007 and have three full album releases. The band is from Paris and have witnessed three different front singers, one for each album (Clementine Delaunay, Elvyne and Marie Rouyer) but Whyzdom is the French Symphonic Metal to what French wine is: it just getting better as it getting older. “Tears of a Hopeless God” naturally explored the symphonic approach by Vynce Leff earlier in “Blind” and brought this very nice piece of “baroque” that make themselves different from other Symphonic metal. The fluff and the puff that made Versailles so French!
Marie voice is just getting better and better and have less the “French accent” that Elvyne had in “Blind” and I believe Vynce found the winning formula for the band. For 2015, this album remains the highest rated of all the album I have reviewed on my blog, so it tells you something.