"some music was meant to stay underground..."

70000 Tons of Metal - The World's Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise

Coronatus - "Terra Incognita" (CD)

Coronatus - "Terra Incognita" CD cover image

"Terra Incognita" track listing:

1. Saint Slayer (4:12)
2. Fernes Land (3:39)
3. A Dead Man's Tale (4:45)
4. Sie Stehn am Weg (3:21)
5. Vor der Schlacht (4:51)
6. Hateful Affection (3:31)
7. Der Kleriker (5:13)
8. Das Zweite Gesicht (4:24)
9. In Signo Crucis (6:17)
10.Der Letzte Freund (5:24)
11.Traumzeit (4:18)
12. Terra Incognita (4:32)

Reviewed by on December 18, 2011

"It is safe to say that 'Terra Icognita' would have garnered more appreciation as an instrumental release."

Germany's Coronatus is back to dazzle the world with its fourth assault of the twin female vocal attack. "Terra Icognita" has its moments, but its oddly harmonized vocals come off as a disjointed mix juxtaposed with great music. After releasing such stellar albums like "Porta Obscura" (2008) and "Fabula Magna" (2009), Coronotus seemed well on its way to making its mark in the symphonic/gothic/power scene, but this release leaves much to be desired.

It is safe to say that "Terra Icognita" would have garnered more appreciation as an instrumental release. There are plenty of chunky riffs ("Saint Slayer," "Hateful Affection"), folksy piping ("Das Zweite Gesicht" "Trumzeit") and bombastic choruses ("In Signo Crucis," "Dead Man's Tale") to please any fan of the genre. Nonetheless, the in-cohesive combination of Mareike Makosch (replacing the departing Carmen R. Lorch) and Ada Flechtner (who returns after the departure of Lisa Lasch) is a true liability on this release. Vocal changes are nothing new to Coronatus, as the band has gone through nine of them in twelve years.

"Saint Slayer" starts with a very promising burly riff with a well placed pause just before the first verse, which is actually sung beautifully with a solo vocal. The refrain and chorus kick in the droning, emotionless low harmony vocal that is like nails to a chalkboard, completely devastating what should be a great song. Suddenly, I'd forgotten the music, focusing squarely on the sour note. This isn't the only time this madness occurs, as the duo plunders "Hateful Affection" with a chorus a mere eight seconds in that completely eradicates the fetching riff. This song begs for Mark Jansen-like growls to bail it out, but alas, the help never comes. Instead the lyrics succinctly tell the sad tale: "I’ll stop this never-ending hell (you can’t do anything), Not when it means I have to kill myself (you would not kill yourself), And I drove the knife in my heart (I’m bleeding, it’s over, I’m bleeding)."

On a positive note, there are songs that really shine like the fantastically folk oriented "Der Kleriker" ("The Cleric") which chokes a little on the verses, but shows the great melody of the band. The pirate sounding anthem "Das Zweite Gesicht" ("Second Sight") has a crushing riff with an accompanying crash cymbal about halfway through signaling its very strong final two minutes. "In Singno Crucis" is a driving power blazer with an amazing chorus that is worthy of Coronatus' legacy. "Der Letzte Freund" ("The Last Friend") shows more hope that perhaps the bad vocal performances could be aberrant. The title track is the best of the album and shows that the true foundation of this band is great musicianship and songwriting.

It’s unfortunate that "Terra Icognita" is such a disjointed confluence of disharmonic vocals with great musicianship. It is an album that is filled with flaws, which will likely disappoint the fan-base, but it ends with the hope Coronatus' next release will see it rise back to where it belongs. The band has too much talent not to!

Highs: Talented musicianship, good songwriting.

Lows: Disjointed vocals, especially when sung in "harmony."

Bottom line: With the confluence of oddly disjointed vocals and good music, the album should be named "Vocalis Incognita."

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 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)