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Xandria - "Neverworld's End" (CD)

Xandria - "Neverworld's End" CD cover image

"Neverworld's End" track listing:

1. A Prophecy of Worlds to Fall (7:23)
2. Valentine (4:11)
3. Forevermore (4:59)
4. Euphoria (4:30)
5. Blood On My Hands (4:17)
6. Soulcrusher (6:11)
7. The Dream Is Still Alive (4:23)
8. The Lost Elysion (5:26)
9. Call of the Wind (4:52)
10. A Thousand Letters (4:18)
11. Cursed (4:10)
12. The Nomad's Crown (9:02)

Reviewed by on February 22, 2012

"If you take tracks like 'Blood On My Hands,' 'The Lost Elysion,' and personal favorite 'Soulcrusher' with Kraller and match them up with older Nightwish classics with Tarja, it would surely be….meeeeow…..a symphonic cat fight to the death!"

In the time since the 2007 release “Salome – The Seventh Veil,” Germany’s Xandria has been coiling like a serpent ready to unleash “Neverworld’s End” to a completely unsuspecting fan base. With the departure of Lisa Schaphaus-Middelhauve in 2008 there have been a number of hiccups in the road, namely the hiring and subsequent departure of Kerstin Bischoff from 2009 to 2010. Now the band emerges stronger than ever with the addition of Manuela Kraller, who was once buried in a sea of musicians and vocalists of the traveling parade named Haggard. For those expecting “Salome, Pt. II,” then you are in for a surprise with “Neverworld’s End.”

At first blush, I was amazed at how well the band recreated the Tarja era Nightwish. The sound is huge, the choruses are strong, and the vocals of Kraller have that similar low powerful operatic tone which blends so perfectly with symphonic metal music. “Neverworld’s End” represents a major shift in the band’s sound, which in the first ten years was leaning closer to gothic metal with a touch of electro and a much calmer sweeter Schaphaus-Middelhauve at the helm. The only song that reminiscent of the Xandria of old is “Forevermore,” but even that fades after the first minute or so.

It is hard to listen to this release and fail to draw the obvious comparisons to Nightwish, especially since the style that once made Xandria a little more unique has now melted completely away in favor of a serious charge at the symphonic power metal crown. In fact, there are parts of this release that actually exceed the newer material of the Finnish masters. With “Neverworld’s End,” the band successfully counters “I Want My Tears Back” with its own bagpipe-laden, but less pop oriented, “Call of the Wind.” They also returned fire at the unnecessarily elongated “Song for Myself” with the slightly shorter epic “The Nomad’s Crown.” If you take tracks like “Blood On My Hands,” “The Lost Elysion,” and personal favorite “Soulcrusher” with Kraller and match them up with older Nightwish classics with Tarja, it would surely be….meeeeow…..a symphonic cat fight to the death!

“Salome – The Seventh Veil” was once considered the band’s finest album, but “Neverworld’s End” leaves it buried and lost. The musicianship has risen to new heights, the sound is crystal clear, and the song writing is rich and full. Even with the heavier turn, it isn’t hard to imagine that the same band which released such promising albums like “India” and “Ravenheart” would pull off an even greater re-birth with “Neverworld’s End.” Xandria has firmly planted its flag in the realm of symphonic metal in 2012 and now it seems apparent the band will storm the keep.

Highs: Stunning symphonic metal at its best.

Lows: The sound that made Xandria unique is non-existant.

Bottom line: Xandria adopts a familiar symphonic metal sound, but makes you never want the Neverworld to end!

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 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)