HB - Enne/Frozen inside 4/5
1. Intro (Holy one)
2. God has all glory
3. It is time
4. Be aware
5. Holy secret
6. Frozen inside
7. Years go by
Jesus Christ... is definitely the lyrical focus of Finland's HB (Holy Bible). Looking at the cover (the band), you wouldn't guess that they're so much into religion, but just like with people and situations, looks can be deceiving. HB was formed back in 2002 and although they've gone through numerous line-up changes, they released their full-length debut 'Uskon puolesta' in 2003 (Update: It was released in 2011 as the English version 'The battle of God') and their 2nd full-length CD 'Enne' was released in 2006, both of which are sung in their native language. 'Frozen inside' is the band's 2008 release, and it's the English version of 'Enne'. I believe the band re-released this CD as an attempt to gain a lot more recognition (especially worldwide), and I wouldn't be surprised if the band's future depends on the success of this CD.
Well, I can tell you right from the start that the band is certainly worthy of a lot more recognition, as they're very talented and are easily competitive in today's metal world. Simply put, their style is symphonic metal, and since they're female fronted (by the wonderful Johanna Aaltonen), they're comparable to Nightwish, Edenbridge, Angtoria, Xandria, Leaves' Eyes, Visions of Atlantis, Delain, Lunatica and Within Temptation. I know these bands are a bit different from each other, but if you can envision HB wandering around somewhere in the middle of these bands, you'll get the idea.
Vocally, Johanna truly has a wonderful voice and I have not one complaint regarding her performance. She reminds me most of Andrea Datwyler of Lunatica, though I like Johanna's vocals more than Andrea's. Lyrically, wow! Not in a good or a bad way, but of my few thousand CDs, this is by far the most Christian oriented. If you think Skylark sings too much about Belzebu, you'd be shocked even more at how many of HB's songs discuss everything related to Jesus Christ. This is "white metal" to the 10th power, and listening to the CD might be the closest I've come to practicing religion in a long time.
But the one thing we've all learned with our music experiences, is that lyrical content rarely affects the quality of the music, as it's songwriting and performance that's most important. Plus, some of you may actually like this CD more because of the Christain theme. That said, it could be too much for some metalheads, especially the spoken words in the slow track 9 "Way", which go on for too long. So while the lyrics may be inspirational to some, they may be deterring to others.
The CD starts out with a short intro, which is a vocal solo that prepares you for the CD's upcoming theme. Track 2 "God has all glory" is my favorite song, as it's fast, has a terrific rhythm, and Johanna's vocals shine immediately. I really get excited with this song, but besides track 8 "Ambition" (the other fairly fast song), the remainder of the CD is slow or mid-paced, though it's usually upbeat and bouncy. One thing that's great is there isn't one weak song, and regardless of tempo, the entire CD contains excellent songwriting and a polished production. Special mention must be made of the magnificent closer "Lovesong" though, which is an emotional and uplifting song that oozes passion.
So we end up with a fantastic CD in the female fronted symphonic metal realm, but one that's got the Christian theme turned up 10 notches. Personally, I don't really mind the lyrical content, but I do wish there was more speed. Still, this CD is better than many of the CDs from other female fronted symphonic metal bands out there - namely Xandria, Visions of Atlantis and Lunatica - off the top of my head and regarding the bands mentioned earlier in the review. So female vocal and symphonic metal fans rejoice, and let's hope this band continues on for a long time, as they're more than capable!
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