Minstrelix - Memoirs 3.5/5

Reviewed: 4-25-08





Tracklist:

1. Amiel
2. Whispers in the wind
3. Moon sickness
4. To immortality
5. Soul of the breeze-mistral
6. The sick rose
7. The betrayal
8. Entropy
9. Long winding road
10. Cruel mockery
11. The wanderers
12. Awaken (bonus track)


Minstrelix is a new band from Japan, who's name is a creative combination of the word "minstrel" and "relics". 'Memoirs' is their full-length debut, and it's a CD that contains mid-evil themes and it's obvious that a lot of thought has been put into the lyrics, which are stories about the experiences of a young traveler. The band certainly values the past, and are influenced by both European and Japanese history/music.

Their base style is definitely power metal, but there are some symphonic parts, folk elements (including a number of instances with a flute), progressive segments, and even some jazz-oriented moments, most notable on track 5 "Soul of the breeze-mistral" and track 7 "The betrayal". There aren't a lot of these moments though, and this aspect is barely worth mentioning. Plus, it gives us something a bit different than the usual, so power metal fans can remain intrigued. The keyboards are mostly used in an atmospheric manner, but are sometimes upfront in the mix, like what you'd expect from, say, many of the Italian bands.

Vocally, the band is female fronted, but surprisingly by an American. Lola is her name, and I'm actually glad this Japanese band has chosen a U.S. vocalist, as high quality female vocalists don't usually come from Japan (at least from my experience). Lola has a very good voice, sticks mostly to the mid-range, though she can certainly hit both the high and low notes. She reminds me mostly of Sonia Pineault from Forgotten Tales, and when I think of Minstrelix as a whole (both musically and vocally), they come off as a blend of Dark Moor and Forgotten Tales.

'Memoirs' starts out with a short intro ("Amiel"), featuring an acoustic guitar and flute, then blazes into the fast track 2 "Whispers in the wind", which has a terrific chorus. The CD remains speedy all the way up to its middle, where the previously mentioned track 5 ("Soul of the breeze-mistral") begins to mix things up, regarding both the tempo and the instruments used. This is where the CD becomes very interesting (though still enjoyable), and I really like the playful and folky track 9 "Long winding road", which leads to the scorcher "Cruel mockery", one of the fastest songs, for sure. Overall, the CD has plenty of speed and great guitar work, sometimes recalling the excellent Japanese band Galneryus. All of the songs on 'Memoirs' are strong though, regardless of tempo, and I especially like the memorable (and long) "The wanderers" at the end of the CD.

So we have a very promising and interesting band, with more than enough power metal for die-hard fans of the genre, but with some unique elements that offer us something refreshing. As far as quality, I dont think the band is quite up to the level of Dark Moor or Forgotten Tales (for quick examples), but with this being the band's debut, they surely have potential. I for one, am looking forward to their future.



CLINT




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