Solar Fragment - In our hands 4/5

Reviewed: 10-1-11





Tracklist:

1. In our hands
2. With empty eyes
3. Inside the circle
4. At the harbor
5. Race the seas
6. Come hell or high water
7. Homecoming
8. Moana’s return
9. The march of the golems
10. Once again


Melodic power metal band Solar Fragment first gathered my interest when they burst onto the metal scene back in 2007 with their bold and impressive debut release, ‘A spark of deity’. Since then the quintet has left Sleaszy Rider Records for Italian label, Scarlet Records; which I felt was a missed opportunity for Sleaszy Rider but a nice win for Scarlet. Returning in 2011, this German band has followed up their excellent debut with release #2 entitled ‘In our hands’; and I can say that it is far more impressive and inspiring than the debut (taking nothing away from the debut).

Without a doubt the heart and soul of Solar Fragment is their vocalist Robert Leger. An astounding vocalist, Leger has a powerful, booming voice that contains eons of emotion and passion. Quite raspy at times, Leger’s voice is very melodic and similar to that of Blind Guardian singer Hansi Kursch. It’s a funny thing that he reminds me of Hansi, because Kursch himself makes a guest appearance on the CD, in a duet of sorts with Leger on the track “Inside the circle”; but more on that later.

Much like Leger sounds similar to Hansi Kursch, Solar Fragment in turn sound quite similar to Blind Guardian (as well as Orden Ogan, Winter’s Verge and Excalion); with bombastic and powerful songwriting and structures, sprinkled with folkish elements and bardic qualities that are very well crafted, diverse and dynamic. The progressive elements that were present on the debut have taken a back seat with ‘In our hands’, with Solar Fragment zoning in on their preferred sound and identity. While Leger does his best with his voice to sell the release and promote the band at the same time, the remainder of the band – drummer Sascha Schiller, bassist Dominic Sewre and guitarists Marc Peters and Manuel Wiegmann also perform to a high standard; with must emphasis on the rhythm and melodic layers that boasts these epic sounding wonders and also the soulful ballads.

Interesting too are the creative lyrical content with the majority of the tracks, which some based on the band’s favourite movies, books and TV shows; as well as the continuing story of the spark-bearer (see the debut CD for more info). The lyrics of “Inside the circle”, centres around Anakin Skywalker and his emotional journey through the 1st to 3rd episodes of the most recent Star Wars trilogy. Not only is the track catchy, dark-tinged and one of the best on the CD, but the addition of Kursch is pure gold. Another track, “Moana’s return” is based on the dark fantasy hit movie Pan’s Labyrinth. A semi-ballad, the song is touching and very enjoyable; with Leger’s wonderful vocals hitting this one out of the ballpark.

The swift and melodic “With empty eyes” is based on the Stephen King novel Cell, while another author Terry Pratchett has one of his books in the Discworld series given the Solar Fragment homage treatment on the pounding and bold track “The march of the golems”. Lastly, “Race the seas” is another excellent and emotional semi-ballad, in which the lyrical themes are about the character Desmond Hume from the TV show Lost (the first CD also contained a track about a “Lost” character, that being John Locke).

In the end, Solar Fragment have clearly and vastly improved between their debut and this new release, with ‘In our hands’ turning out to be an exceptional piece of work that is the product of strong songwriting skills, a wonderful production, talented musicians and a singer that is the backbone of the band; whose voice alone ignites so many emotions inside anyone who hears. While still not the most well known melodic power metal band in the world, Solar Fragment are definitely climbing that ladder of success and it won’t be long before their musicianship and talents are given the proper kudos’ that they richly deserve. ‘In our hands’ is an absolute no-brainer CD to hunt down for any melodic power metal fans out there.



SEAN




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