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Karelia - Usual tragedy 4.5/5

Reviewed: 7-16-04


1. Intro
2. Letter from an angel
3. Torn dress
4. Usual tragedy
5. Deserter
6. Blind
7. Called up
8. Daddy's grave
9. My guilty absence
10. Slave of time

Wow! What an awesome debut! This one really surprised me. Musically, this is very similar to Nightwish (especially their brillant 'Oceanborn'), but these guys have the epic strength of Rhapsody. There's lots of huge opera choirs and strong orchestral/symphonic arrangements. The powerful epic atmosphere has totally hooked me in!

It's the vocals that are going to make or break this band though. Vocalist Matthieu Kleiber sings with 2 different styles, specifically with his tone. At times he sounds very close to Tobias Sammet of Edguy (with the same high quality!). While other times the vocals are sung with a deeper tone (tenor) that could best be compared to Giacomo Mercaldo from recent Heimdall, or also described as a slightly deeper Andrea Marchisio of Desdemona and recent Highlord. In some spots, the vocals remind me of Villo Nolasco from the Brazilian band Liar Symphony. The higher vocals are fantastic, and the deeper vocals also work for me, as I feel they add to the huge epic feeling of the entire CD.

The short "Intro" has some strong opera choirs, and has me interested immediately. Track 2 "Letter for an angel" begins with the deeper vocals, but just as quick picks up with the speed and the higher vocals. Already a great start for the CD. Track 3 "Torn dress" is another strong epic song with an excellent guitar solo. Track 4 "Usual tragedy" is probably the most powerful on the CD, and is definitely one of the highlights, great! Track 5 "Deserter" begins slow with the deeper vocals and later picks up with the typical epic strength. This change in speed continues throughout the song and the contrast in vocals does too. A beautiful orchestral arrangement finishes off the song nicely. Track 6 "Blind" picks up the pace and really reminds me of Nightwish. We even get some female opera vocals on this one! Track 7 "Called up" is a slow song that sounds like some of the slower Heimdall material. This song also has a great violin that brings some variation to the CD. Track 8 "Daddy's grave" has some quick riffs and a comparison to Edguy is heard. Track 9 "My guilty absence" again reminds me of Edguy, but this time in a more mid-paced manner. The last track "Slave of time" is musically the song that sounds closest to Nightwish. It's a strong finish to a very powerful CD.

These guys have taken an idea and come out with a perfect debut to reflect that idea. There's nothing missing from what they've set out to accomplish, and there's enough high guitar solos to balance out the overall epic sound of the CD. This comes close to matching Nightwish at their best. Fans of strong epic orchestral/symphonic power metal should make sure they get a glimpse of this CD. Whether or not the contrasting vocals will appeal to them, is unknown... but this CD is going to be in my player for a long time!




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