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Xandria - "Theater of Dimensions" (CD)

Xandria - "Theater of Dimensions" CD cover image

"Theater of Dimensions" track listing:

1. Where the Heart Is Home
2. Death to the Holy
3. Forsaken Love
4. Call of Destiny
5. We Are Murderers (We All) (Feat. Björn Strid)
6. Dark Night of the Soul
7. When the Walls Came Down (Heartache Was Born)
8. Ship of Doom
9. Ceilí
10. Song for Sorrow and Woe
11. Burn Me (Feat. Zaher Zorgati)
12. Queen of Hearts Reborn
13. A Theater of Dimensions (Feat. Henning Basse)

Reviewed by on January 20, 2017

"...[T]here has been no better symphonic metal band on the planet [than Xandria]."

Whenever one of the few interesting symphonic metal bands announces a new album, it is cause for notice. The usually predictable genre generally needs a face lift, one that should start introducing more metal chicks into the fold and much less opera singers. This isn’t a criticism of what is metal and what is not, but what is needed to perpetuate a scene that is wrought with woeful monotony. Only a handful of like acts can keep up the interest and one of the subgenre’s best is Xandria. The gloomy thin straight gothic material of the band’s past seems like such a distant memory and ever since “Neverworld’s End,” there has been no better symphonic metal band on the planet (and this includes Nightwish). “Theater of Dimensions” continues in the “Sacrificium” mold and adds a few more surprises to the mix.

Where “Sacrificium” had a overall Nightwish direction, “Theater of Dimensions” leans more towards Epica, but with all the unique elements that Xandria brings to the table. Listening to songs like “Call of Destiny,” “We Are Murderers (We All),” and “Ship of Doom,” it is nearly impossible to not make the connection with Epica. Dianne van Giersbergen sounds eerily similar to “Consign to Oblivion” era Simone Simmons, especially on the aforementioned tracks. However, Xandria has the uncanny ability of incorporating all the elements of great influential bands and making the music its own, and in many ways better.

For “Theater of Dimensions,” the band employed a few stellar guest vocalists – Bjorn “Speed” Strid (Soilwork) on the crushing “We Are Murderers (We All),” the woefully underused and underrated Zaher Zorgati (Myrath) on the oriental spiced “Burn Me” and Henning Basse (Firewind) on the album’s epic title track. Much like the great Tobias Sammet (Avantasia), the equally great Marco Heubaum has the ability to craft songs that draw direct influence from guest vocalists’ bands to perfectly meld Xandria with Myrath or Xandria to Soilwork.

Particularly impressive is listening to van Giersbergen’s maturation in the metal environment and it shows on “Theater of Dimensions,” especially in “Queen of Hearts Reborn.” She doesn’t just sport a pure opera style – but opens it up a little and shows off some different styles. The same applies to the title track, which truly comes across like Xandria’s own roller coaster version of “Imaginaerum.” Theatrical and emotive, the song marks an epoch for the band, a song that has so many…well, ‘dimensions’ ranging from tender and mild to total muscle. It doesn’t hurt that Henning Basse is inserted into the fray, which adds depth and power.

Taking on the impossible task topping the perfection of “Sacrificium,” Xandria transcends itself with “Theater of Dimensions.” The band creates its own “Imaginaerum,” but this one adds a serrated death metal guitar tone to add danger to the mind-altering symphonic journey, prevalent on songs like “We Are Murderers (We All)” and “Ship of Doom.” With the added dash of folk on movie score quality tracks like “Céilí” and the 14+ minute opus “Theater of Dimensions,” Xandria has firmly solidified its grip as one of the best bands of the subgenre.

Highs: In a world of stale overdone symphonic metal, Xandria continues to rise above.

Lows: Other than the presence of Bjorn Strid, there isn't much here for those seeking extreme elements.

Bottom line: After the stunning "Sacrificium," Xandria adds more 'dimensions' and a lot of 'theater.'

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
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)