Salamandra - Faces of Chimera 4/5

Reviewed: 6-27-08





Tracklist:

1. The tears of the ocean
2. Orion
3. Dreams of the fair
4. Legacy of the heroes
5. Eternal injustice
6. Heart full of snow
7. Chimera
8. Conquest of paradise
9. Atlantis
10. Requiem
11. Fading desires
12. War of evils
13. The last of all


Salamandra is a power metal band from Czech Republic and they've already been around for a decade, though I'm sure many of you have never heard them. Their debut 'Twilight of legends' (1999) was an okay start, but they improved with their 2nd CD 'Skarremar' (2000), and in my opinion, really took a leap forward with their 3rd CD 'Great moravian elegies' (2004). Now they're back with their 4th CD 'Faces of Chimera' (late-2007), and since 'Great moravian elegies' is outstanding, I was really looking forward to this new release.

Salamandra has experienced both the steady side and the changing side of the metal world. For starters, they've been fortunate enough to maintain establishment with the same record label for all 4 of their CDs - that being Leviathan Records, who mostly deals with death and black metal bands, and I believe Salamandra is the only power metal band with the label. It's definitely great that they have constant support from the record label, but their CDs aren't very easy to find, as Leviathan Records is not one of those popular labels that's well known for their worldwide distribution.

Unfortunately, the band has gone through many line-up changes, and 'Faces of Chimera' is the first CD to feature vocalist Ivan Borovsky, who has replaced the vocalist of their first 3 CDs, Dalibor "Panther" Halamieek. I haven't noticed a big difference between the 2 vocalists; they both have accents, but are quite clear and typical of a power metal vocalist. Another change worth mentioning, is that as of their 2nd CD 'Skarremar', there are some female (soprano) vocals. Though she wasn't the vocalist on 'Skarremar', Hanka Slachtova has provided the female vocals on 'Great moravian elegies' and now 'Faces of Chimera'. She is also the keyboardist, and although her vocals aren't present on a lot of the songs, her keyboard contributions are present on all of them.

Musically, Salamandra sits somewhere in the middle of Blind Guardian and Logar's Diary, but probably because of the manner in which the keyboards are performed, the band is fairly symphonic and I'm also reminded of Italian bands like Skylark, Landguard, Dragonhammer, Kaledon and Dark Horizon. In addition, throughout their discography, the band has used some unique instruments, including bagpipes, a church organ and a flute. The extra instruments have made them slightly more interesting, and just like Logar's Diary, they don't sound exactly like another band and are surely distinguishable.

One of the more positive aspects of 'Faces of Chimera' (actually, all of their CDs) is that there is a lot of speed, and I think the band's songwriting skills are more than competitive. There's enough changes in the guitar work/rhythm to keep things interesting, and there are some terrific choruses, many times featuring a small choir. I also like the variety that female vocalist Hanka brings, as the songs she's a part of really seem to stand out. In fact, when I think of the band as a whole (both musically and vocally), the band Ivory Moon has entered my mind as another comparison, so if you have and enjoy that band, you'll like Salamandra a lot and vice-versa.

Lately, I've spun this CD numerous times, along with their other 3 CDs a few times, but I haven't decided if I like 'Faces of Chimera' more than their previous 'Great moravian elegies'. Both are excellent, certainly the best of the band's discography, and recommended if you're into any of the aforementioned bands. Though Czech Republic doesn't usually enter our path down the metal road, Salamandra is doing their best to remind us that high quality power metal can come from anywhere.



CLINT




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