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Symfonia - "In Paradisum" (CD)

Symfonia - "In Paradisum" CD cover image

"In Paradisum" track listing:

1. Fields of Avalon
2. Come by the Hills
3. Santiago
4. Alayna
5. Forevermore
6. Pilgrim Road
7. In Paradisum
8. Rhapsody in Black
9. I Walk in Neon
10. Don't Let Me Go

Reviewed by on March 29, 2011

"'In Paradisum' will be a hit with fans of energetic grab-your-balls power metal even if it doesn’t bring anything new to the genre."

Scandinavia seems to be delivering consistent power metal as if it were peanuts at a ball game. In Symfonia, we see several well-known power metal musicians united in Scandinavia for another bag of peanuts. Timo Tolkki of Stratovarius, Andre Matos of Angra, Uli Kusch of Helloween, Jari Kainulainen of Stratovarius and Evergrey, and Mikko Harkin of Sonata Arctica come together to make up the band’s first album, "In Paradisum."

If you’ve heard the bands these musicians came from, you’ll be able to guess this new band’s sound pretty accurately. In every project Tolkki has been associated with, his writing style has dominated the sound. It’s no exception with Symfonia – if you’ve heard Stratovarius, you already know the sound, no matter how much Tolkki tries to differentiate his projects. There’s not much for the drummer to do differently with Tolkki’s writing style other than gallop on the double-kick drums and snare for much of the song. Kusch does have some other dynamics on the record, but he follows Tolkki’s lead for most of the album. The band knows it doesn’t need to try new tricks. Why fix what isn’t broken?

The keyboards are very much reminiscent of Sonata Arctica, with harpsichord parts backing the lead guitars, bright patches, and some serious synth leads. "Fields of Avalon" kicks the album off in a familiar fashion and has a guitar/synth battle section. Tolkki and Harkin’s solos are out to bite each other’s heads off here. One lingering disappointment on the album is that Matos sings far too much in a high range that sounds difficult for him. Nevertheless, he delivers a good deal of energy on songs like "Rhapsody in Black," "I Walk in Neon," and "Come by the Hills," which have a wall of gang vocals behind him.

One of the longest songs on the album, "Alayna," is the real diamond of this record. It’s an emotional lamentation and, for a ballad, it’s built up very well with acoustic guitars and weeping barely-distorted electric guitar. "Forevermore" is also a highlight, which kicks off just after "Alayna," at more than double the tempo. "Pilgrim Road" has a folk melody that makes the listener almost feel like dancing. "Rhapsody in Black" calls the listener to headbang furiously and "hit the shadows back, find your destiny and never ever let it go."

Overall, "In Paradisum" will be a hit with fans of energetic grab-your-balls power metal, even if it doesn’t bring anything new to the genre. You have to respect the consistency of the men of Symfonia. The band also sounds as if they had a lot of fun writing the songs.

Highs: Timo Tolkki being Timo Tolkki, good blend of talented musicians, lack of filler

Lows: Matos sounds uncomfortable singing so high, "Don't Let Me Go" feels out of place with the rest of the songs.

Bottom line: A spirited album of the familiar Finnish power metal style that never gets old.

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)