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Imperia - Secret passion 4/5

Reviewed: 7-1-11


1. Touch of your hand
2. Secret passion
3. Fragile
4. Out of sight
5. Let down
6. Violence
7. Like rain
8. Suicide
9. Hold on
10. Greed
11. Missing it all
12. My sleeping angel

Imperia is a symphonic gothic power metal band from Netherlands and this is their 3rd studio CD. The songs feature a nice mix of mid-paced symphonic gothic metal, fast power metal and dramatic ballads. The predominate style is symphonic gothic metal, and these songs are generally heavy and crunchy with huge pervasive keys along with extremely catchy choruses; the arrangements are dense and epic, usually with an upbeat feel. Although no song is relentlessly fast, several songs significantly pick up speed in places, transitioning into quite bombastic and exciting symphonic power metal with occasional lead guitar runs. There are also several power ballads, a few of which are really pretty, though a bit sad and poignant. This is all something of a departure from their earlier CDs, and a departure for the better for my tastes. ‘The ancient dance of Qetesh’ was epic and symphonic albeit sometimes monotonous, but it lacked heaviness and guitar-crunch, while ‘Queen of light’ had heaviness and crunch but its speediness made too many of the songs sort of blur together. With ‘Secret passion’ they seem to have found the perfect blend of these various styles.

Their female vocalist is the well-known Helena Iren Michaelsen, who has been singing in various metal bands since the late-90s. She has always been known for her passion and amazing variety of singing styles, and she certainly does not disappoint here. Although she is not quite as adventurous as she was when she sang for Trail of Tears, she is more ambitious than she was on the earlier Imperia CDs. Like those CDs, she primarily sings with a strong, confident, expressive operatic soprano style, but it is a noticeably more mature and nuanced soprano style; she expresses so many different emotions with extraordinary earnestness and sincerity. Sadly, however, she has only a few excursions into her distinctive “wicked witch” style.

The obvious band comparisons are older Nightwish and Within Temptation, before these bands made the switch to poppier symphonic metal. This is indeed a familiar style, which makes it all the more amazing that Imperia could make a significant contribution to it, especially given the relative mediocrity of their first 2 CDs. The difference this time is the stellar songwriting: put simply, it is unusually engaging and memorable with much more variety in styles than is typical for the genre; combine this with an awesomely heavy production and one of Helena’s best vocal performances of her career, and you have a CD worth spending a lot of time with.




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