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Suncrown - "You Are Not Alone" (CD)

Suncrown - "You Are Not Alone" CD cover image

"You Are Not Alone" track listing:

1. The Beginning Is Near
2. Who Are You
3. You Are Not Alone
4. Grandfather's Song
5. Primordial Call (Infernorama cover)
6. Open The Winds
7. Victory Inside You (Instrumental)
8. Just Like You
9. Sometimes This Life
10. Push
11. Gates Of Babylon (Rainbow cover)

Reviewed by on March 5, 2014

"Suncrown will surely intrigue you with a few stirs of the creative pot."

Suncrown is certainly one of the most randomly assembled galleries of musicians, by nation, in metal history. This octet’s current lineup reads like an Olympics roster: Ukraine, Brazil, Turkey, the Netherlands, and the United States are all featured. Thus, you might suspect the band’s take on epic symphonic metal is more invigorating than most. Whether or not the international diversity plays a role, your suspicions in this case would prove correct.

The presence of flutist Ugur Kerem Cemiloglu and guest violinist Jenee Fleenor takes some of the pressure off keyboardist and founding member Oleg Biblyi, but rather than leading sophomore album “You Are Not Alone” into clichéd folk metal swamps, their inclusion frees up Biblyi and his band to focus on crafting broad, airy, organic compositions that escape symphonic and power metal’s typical constraints.

“The Beginning Is Near” exploits those constraints by applying Suncrown’s full instrumental arsenal to an above-average Stratovarius template, with moving results. The further into the track list we wade, the less predictable it all gets, particularly on songs like “Who Are You” and “Open The Winds,” and even instrumental “Victory Inside You” – all of which blur the lines between power, symphonic, and folk metal to great effect. The complex and expansive dynamic between these musicians and their material works so well that the cover of “Primordial Call” by underground Dutch band Infernorama slips by without a seam, and even the closing cover of Rainbow’s “Gates Of Babylon” could pass for an original.

The final twist involves the use of two vocalists, male (Darren Crisp) and female (Juliana Furlani), a by-now common practice that Suncrown subverts by skirting the rote “beauty and beast” or “call and answer” formulas. Instead, they’re all over the place, drifting in and out of one another’s territory where the song calls for them, leaving us unsure of who will appear around the next corner. Dazzling a jaded audience in such a well-worn, saturated market is no easy task, and while Suncrown may not stand out like an oasis in a desert, they will surely intrigue you with a few stirs of the creative pot.

Highs: The eclectic lineup helps bring a breath of fresh air to an overplayed subgenre.

Lows: That breath is not quite fresh enough to convert the unconverted.

Bottom line: An imaginative take on epic symphonic metal that won't dissuade naysayers, but will encourage jaded fans of the style to think twice.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)