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Arven - Music of light 3.5/5

Reviewed: 12-1-11


1. Music of light
2. On flaming wings
3. Raise your cups
4. My dear friend
5. World of hatred
6. Dark red desire
7. Midwinter nights
8. Till death do us apart
9. Ruined castle
10. A stranger's story

Arven is a lightly folksy power metal band from Germany and this is their debut CD. Although there are a few ballads, most of the songs are heavy, crunchy and very festive, with folksy touches throughout most of them. The arrangements tend to be fairly simple and direct, alternating between melodic mid-paced passages with catchy choruses and fast, bouncy, upbeat ones. The melodic passages feature most of the folksy touches courtesy of violin, flute and clean guitar; the faster passages are guitar-driven and are often extremely rocking and energetic with frequent exuberant instrumentals. The several ballads are especially beautiful, and transition nicely between pretty, sometimes melancholy, acoustic passages and crunchy power ballads.

Except for their drummer, the band is all female. Their vocalist, Carina Hanselmann, is absolutely superb; she has a beautiful soprano style that is unusually confident, smooth, clear and expressive. Even when she transitions to a lightly operatic style there is an effortlessness and enthusiasm in her delivery that is completely enchanting. The ballads are among my favorite songs on the CD as they showcase just how beautiful and engaging her vocals are; indeed, even her few spoken parts are a joy to hear. There is also occasional backing female choir.

‘Music of light’ is well done on every level but it suffers simply from sounding too familiar; this is hardly surprising when you think of how many excellent bands crowd this genre, bands like Dawn of Destiny, Crimson Tears, Gwyllion, Bare Infinity, Lunatica and Voices of Destiny (though Arven is more folksy than any of these bands). If you have only heard a little festive power metal then ‘Music of light’ would most likely be stunning, the songs are so exuberant and Carina is so enthralling; but if you have been listening to this style of metal for years you feel like you’ve absorbed everything ‘Music of light’ has to offer after just a few listens, due in no small part to the simplicity and predictability of most of the arrangements. There is no question that Carina is the highlight of this band and ‘Music of light’ is worth owning just to hear her sing; I am hoping the band will be more adventurous next time in their songwriting, as they have the potential to rise above the limitations and clichés of so much of the melodic power metal in circulation today.




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