Samandriel - Awakening (EP) 3.5/5
1. Holy load
2. Trial by terror
3. Initial reality
4. The mighty seabeast
5. Demise of the Icewitch
6. Harmonies madness
What we have here is the first release from Canadian band Samandriel, a self-released EP with 6 original songs and a decent running time of just over 27 minutes. While we almost exclusively review full-length CDs here at Metal CD Ratings, the band offered to send this to me and I just had to make an exception and review it, as it's greatly in line with my tastes and the band has a lot of potential.
For those unfamiliar with my tastes, Samandriel is a female fronted melodic/symphonic power metal band with slight gothic leanings. The CD has catchy rhythms, more than enough speed to satisfy, symphonic elements that don't dominate the rest of the music, and an overall nice balance of tempo. In addition, it's a smooth CD that flows very well.
Vocally, the band is fronted by the confident Doneka Reid, who simply put, has a wonderful voice that leaves me with not even one negative (or constructive) thing to say. She reminds me a lot of Enter Twilight's Lidia Szymczak, which means that her voice is a blend of Tarja (ex-Nightwish) and Sabine Edelsbacher (Edenbridge). Doneka reaches operatic range from time to time, and she pulls it off as well as any vocalist in metal today. There are some occasional "beast" vocals, and they're mostly in the background (many times while Doneka is singing).
As a whole, though Samandriel doesn't sound exactly like one specific band, they do fall somewhere in the group that contains Visions of Atlantis, Nightwish, Enter Twilight, Leaves' Eyes, Elis, Bare Infinity, Ad Vitam Aeternam, Edenbridge, Venin Noir, Angtoria and Coronatus. Samandriel is slightly darker than some of these bands, slightly less symphonic than others, but generally does fit somewhere in this group.
One thing that stands out with this CD is that it's consistent. All of the songs are very good, though the closer "Harmonies madness" is probably my favorite, as Doneka's vocals leave a lasting impression. I also like the short but fantastic guitar solo in the opener "Holy load" and the impressive keyboard solo in track 5 "Demise of the Icewitch". So even though Doneka's vocals carry this CD and are the band's best aspect, they're a talented bunch with great songwriting skills and they're definitely competitive with the many other female fronted melodic/symphonic power metal bands out there. Best of luck to them!
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