Wizards' Hymn - Transience 3/5
2. King and servant
3. Wake in dreamland
5. Red petal
6. The trace
9. Whisper of snow
One of the most unusual reviews I've ever written is for the debut 'Hymnal', from the Japanese band Wizards' Hymn. Musically, 'Hymnal' is catchy power metal with a lot of keys, similar to Stratovarius, Sonata Arctica, Dreamtale and so on, and I really enjoyed the musical side of the CD. Unfortunately, 'Hymnal' was greatly hampered by female vocalist Kimiko Shirao, whose voice ranged from low (nearly moaning) to extremely high-pitched (even screechy at times), but it was her poor pronunciation that really left me cold. Still, the band showed some promise and in the back of my mind, I figured the band could increase their quality a lot by replacing Kimiko.
Well, with their 2nd CD 'Transience', Wizards' Hymn has done just that, as Kimiko has been replaced by the confident Yusa, who has much more control over her voice, though her pronunciation isn't tremendously better. She has a voice that's quite soft too, and it's not really suited for power metal - but that's just it, not only has the band changed vocalists, they've also changed music styles. Simply put, Wizards' Hymn can now be lumped in the standard symphonic/gothic metal group that contains Within Temptation, Xandria, Sengir, etc., and the change the band has made is extremely similar to what Magica did between their 2nd CD 'Lightseeker' and 3rd CD 'Hereafter'. One thing I should mention however, is that although Wizards' Hymn's vocal side is better with Yusa, I wouldn't put her at the high level of Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation), for example.
As for the songs, they're all of the slow to mid-paced type, but there aren't any ballads. There are a few flashes of speed, but as far as tempo, once again, this is similar to Magica's 'Hereafter' or recent CDs from Within Temptation, Xandria and Sengir. One thing I really like is that, although they've stuck with the typical symphonic/gothic metal formula, there are some cool guitar solos and let's face it, some of the best guitarists in the world reside in Japan. Actually, I was already impressed by the band's guitar work on 'Hymnal' and although there aren't as many of the guitar-oriented parts as there was on 'Hymnal' ('Transience' is very symphonic), it's still obvious the band is talented. They do a great job of incorporating the piano too, which grabs your attention a few times. Thankfully, the longest song on the CD is also the best, and it's the closer 'Whisper of snow'. This highly symphonic and epic song is actually the reason the CD grabbed the 3/5 ("above average") rating, as the remainder of the CD could be considered just decent to good.
So we have yet another band that's changed styles, and in many ways, this is almost like the band's debut. Otherwise, they're a band struggling to find an identity and their spot in today's massive metal world. Only time will tell which of these descriptions is accurate, but from me personally, I wish the band a lot of luck in the future and in a way, I'm proud of them for making it through and past their debut, as this could have easily been another one-and-done band.
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