Sebastien - Tears of white roses 4/5

Reviewed: 4-1-11





Tracklist:

1. Musee du Satan rouge
2. Femme fatal
3. Dorian
4. Remiel in flames
5. Tears of white roses
6. Phoenix rising
7. Voices in your heart
8. Fields of Chlum (1866 A.D.)
9. Lake of dreams
10. Silver water
11. Black rose – part I
12. Black rose – part II


Bursting out of the Czech Republic with a major force is power metal band, Sebastien. Relatively unknown (until now), the band has actually been around since 1999, however under a different name. They began as Calypso (releasing no material), then changed their name to Navar in 2001. As Navar, they released just one demo in 7 years until they split up in 2008. From there the band was resurrected under the name Sebastien and after a demo released in 2008 (‘Zavidim’), they have finally released their debut full-length CD, entitled ‘Tears of white roses’.

Signed by Escape Music Ltd, the new release has been produced by Masterplan guitarist Roland Grapow, which is already a step in the right direction. Featuring vocalist/guitarist George Rain, drummer Radek Rain, keyboardist Rob Vransky, guitarist Andy Mons and bassist Peter Forge, Sebastien also have some heavy backing in their corner (no doubt arranged by Grapow). The new CD features guest musicians/vocalists including Apollo Papathanasio (Firewind), Fabio Lione (Rhapsody Of Fire), Mike DiMeo (Creation’s End, ex-Masterplan), Amanda Somerville (Kiske/Somerville) and Grapow himself just to mention a few. Not a bad helping hand for a debut CD if I say so myself.

Sebastien are a melodic power metal band, which are in the same vein as Germany’s Orden Ogan (another band who burst onto the metal scene a few years back). Their music is quite complex to call it just simple melodic power metal, as there are also fragrances of progressive metal, symphonic elements and atmospheric passages. Almost like a metal opera, the music is influenced somewhat by producer Grapow and the music does have a slight Masterplan feel to it. The end result is an impressive and explosive mix; which is intricate, catchy, passionate, bombastic and grandeur. It is indeed a huge effort from all involved, with the CD a diverse mix of thundering power metal with soothing melodies and haunting synths and keys. They certainly went for “big” and “show-stopping” when creating this CD and I feel that it has paid off tenfold. ‘Tears of white roses’ really could be deja-vu with Orden Ogan’s ‘Vale’ all over again, but with a new fire and new breath spurning it on.

The tracks, the tracks! Oh where to begin... all the tracks on the release are highly rated and sitting somewhere between very good to exceptional. There’s a lot of diversity on here and a lot to like no matter which metal genre you hang your hat on. “Musee du Satan rouge” kicks the CD off in a catchy and rigorous upbeat style, which is followed by “Femme fatal” a slower yet powerful and emotional track featuring Amanda Somerville on vocals. “Dorian” is next and is one of the catchy killer tracks on the CD. Starting off with a “Phantom of the opera” style organ tune, before the driving guitars and drums sweep through. Fabio Lione lends his voice on the track and does a great job too I must say.

“Remiel in flames” is where we really get to hear the vocal talents of singer George Rain. There are no guests on this track, this one is all Sebastien, and again it is another top performance, with the track containing a nice blend of melodic metal and modern European hard rock. The impressive title track is next and it features Mike DiMeo behind the mic; his soaring and emotional vocals leading the way in a duet with Rain. The catchy and memorable chorus being the highlight on this track til we get to “Phoenix rising”. A swifter track than the ones before it, with Roland Grapow now lending his voice (I never knew he could sing, btw), and a short but kick-ass solo in the middle. Not wanting to spoil the entire CD for you readers by describing each track, the remainder of the CD is filled with great tracks including the moving semi-ballad “Fields of Chlum (1866 A.D.)", and the synth and groove-filled “Silver water”, which features Apollo Papathanasio.

The bottom line here is – I was expecting just another mediocre 2nd tier melodic metal band and I possibly couldn’t have gotten it more wrong with that assumption. ‘Tears of white roses’ completely left me flabbergasted, literally. Sebastien are a unique and brilliant band whose debut release is one of the best I’ve heard in the melodic metal genre. Of course the guest musicians add further depth and bonus points, but it is the band’s complex and intricate songwriting which really needs to be heard to be believed.

For all other struggling bands of the same genre, out there plugging away, this is the blueprint, the script for you to study and follow. I did say that Sebastien opted for “big” with this release. Well, they achieved that and then some; my only worry is if they are able to equal this high performance on subsequent releases. I guess only time will tell, but until then, melodic metal fans who are looking for something fresh, substantial, unique and fulfilling can go out and find themselves a copy of Sebastien’s ‘Tears of white roses’.



SEAN




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