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Lyriel - Paranoid circus 4.5/5

Reviewed: 5-1-10


1. Opening
2. Welcome
3. Like a feather in the wind
4. The regret
5. Elderberry and lavender
6. Lullaby
7. Foeman's bride
8. The wolf
9. So long, my love
10. My awakened soul
11. Paranoid circus
12. The wheel of fortuna
13. The way to nowhere
14. Another time
15. Conclusion

Lyriel is a folk rock/metal band from Germany and this is their 3rd studio CD. The songs are generally lightly crunchy with pervasive festive folksy violin and cello along with occasional bombastic light metal passages. This is a genre well known for festive yet simplistic arrangements where bands sort of “heavy up” traditional folk melodies; there is certainly some of this on ‘Paranoid circus’ but I was genuinely surprised by the richness and variety in their songwriting. Every song does indeed incorporate an upbeat catchy folk melody, often driven by dual violin and cello, but rarely does that melody define the song; rather, most of the songs are fundamentally extremely engaging and accessible melodic rock with the folk melodies weaved in and out with an almost mesmerizing ease and authenticity. There are also bursts of exhilarating bombastic drum-driven high-energy passages, dramatically changing the mood of the song, adding even more richness and variety to the music.

No small part of the enchantment of ‘Paranoid circus’ is the vocal performance of Jessica Thierjun; you may not even recognize her as the same singer as on their first 2 CDs; she has a strong, rather husky though quite expressive style on ‘Prisonworld’ and ‘Autumntales’, but she shows that she had quite a bit of versatility on ‘Paranoid circus’; her voice is still more alto than soprano but she has taken a much more soothing, mellow, somewhat laid-back approach, along with well-placed excursions into choruses of such festivity and enthusiasm that they still catch me off-guard in spite of many listens.

I am a fan of ‘Prisonworld’ and ‘Autumntales’, but ‘Paranoid circus’ is a huge leap forward in terms of engaging songwriting. It seamlessly and effortlessly blends the exhilarating festivity of ‘Prisonworld’ with the interesting but accessible complexity of ‘Autumntales’ to create the best female vocal folk rock/metal CD I have heard in years.




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