Independent Release

Review by Lithium

A running joke in the region where I live is, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait… it will change”. That same principle applies to the “Anesidora” EP from Benighted Soul but with the major caveat that there is nothing here not to like. Each of these six well-written songs consists of several component segments and the overall effect is a state of constant flux that at the very least is rather engaging if not altogether riveting. The definition of ‘benighted’ is the figurative sense of ‘in intellectual or moral darkness.’ So, even if you didn’t already know what ‘benighted’ meant, you no longer are a benighted soul with respect to the meaning behind the name of this band. “Anesidora”‘s lyrics are inspired mostly from Greek and Egyptian myths, which I cannot quite connect with the concept of a benighted soul. Still, this EP succeeds in creating an epic, somewhat exotic atmosphere that does leave one feeling a bit benighted about what to make of the whole thing, at least in terms of some deeper meaning to be gleaned from it. Musically, the closest familiar reference point probably would be Tarja-era Nightwish. Yes, after you’ve taken away everything else that is going on here, what we are left with is symphonic power metal. With that having been said, “Anesidora” not only sounds barely similar to Nighwish but also is better in many ways than anything Nightwish has ever done. There is a subtle complexity in the orchestral arrangements that supercedes typical symphonic-metal fare. Take for example the harpsichord-like keyboard part in “Fairytale” or the various percussion instruments such as triangles and cowbell that are woven throughout these intricately-crafted compositions. Not to mention the nifty guitar work and delightful chord progressions featured on some of the instrumental segments, or the full array of additional orchestral sounds that give these pieces their genuinely symphonic quality. The instrumental piece “Blood of Achilles” is a prime slice of film-score metal. Picture, if you will, the tip of a battle flag poking over the horizon followed by either a Mongol Horde or an army of Crusaders (it doesn’t really matter) riding over a hill on horseback to do battle with whomever the Mongols or Crusaders did battle with. Well, that’s exactly what this composition sounds like the soundtrack to as it progresses through its various phases into and then through the actual battle itself. Swords are struck, blood is shed, and warriors are killed. It’s a well-written, moving piece that nicely showcases the diversity of this band’s talents. Not surprisingly, the vocal department is as varied as the rest of this disc. Not in terms of quality, which is excellent throughout, but in approach. Vocalist Geraldine Gadaut turns in a flawless performance that is nothing short of awe-inspiring. She has a warm, pleasant voice that nicely enriches the soft soprano parts, while also making for an excellent non-soprano delivery. Benighted Soul’s style of music by its very nature demands versatility on the part of the singer, and Geraldine handles that requirement quite admirably. The male vocals consist of a rather unique style that I would describe as 50% hardcore, 40% Marco Hietala and 10% death growl. I suppose you could label them spooky-core. In some places male vocals are found in background, while at others they join with Geraldine in duet mode. Overall, the male vocals do augment this recording, though not breathtakingly so, and its first-rate sound production also comes as a welcome enhancement. Even if I were so inclined, there would be very little to say about this EP that is negative. This as much as anything illustrates the degree to which I found Anesidora to be a solid effort in every respect. Benighted Soul is a true class act. Highly recommended for fans of operatic symphonic metal. Male vocals: Moderate in amount, both lead and background. Extreme in style, though technically not growled.

Rating – 85/100

 

Tracklist

  1. Medea’s Anger
  2. Fairytale
  3. Prince of Shades
  4. Bucephalus
  5. Blood of Achilles
  6. Anesidora

 

Line Up

  • Geraldine “Jay” Gadaut – Vocals
  • Jérémie Jeyms – Guitar 
  • Flavien Morel – Keyboards, Orchestration, Backing Vocals
  • Jean-Gabriel Bocciarelli – Bass, Vocals 
  • Nicolas Adam – Drums

 

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