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Wizards' Hymn - Hymnal 3/5

Reviewed: 12-29-06


1. Wings of time
2. Olden story tells
3. The glory of the desert
4. Firestorm
5. Through the wilderness
6. The circle of fate
7. A drop in the ocean
8. Live my life
9. Sun in the night
10. The call from the unknown

Wizards' Hymn is a new Japanese band and their debut 'Hymnal' is about as fresh off the press as you can get. The CD's style is power metal and although comparisons could be made to many bands, I'm going to simplify things by comparing them to Stratovarius only. But this comparison is in regards to the music, as the band is female fronted (which I'll get into a bit later). There are faster songs, upbeat and bouncy ones, and there are a few slower songs as well. Keyboards are present, and along with some killer guitar solos, they highlight a lot of the songs and make for an impressive performance. The CD has a nice flow and I've found the songwriting as a whole to be superior to that of many bands in this style.

The speedy "Wings of time" gets things going right away with double-bass drumming and typical power metal riffs that will surely grab your attention. The following "Olden story tells" is also great, as its bouncy rhythm is quite catchy. The highlights for me however, are the fast-paced "Through the wilderness", "A drop in the ocean" and also "Sun in the night", a song that will instantly bring Stratovarius (along with Sonata Arctica, Thunderstone, etc.) to mind. In addition, the slow "The glory of the desert" and "Live my life" are well written and bring in some variety. Really, the CD is put together very well and the band showcases a lot of talent.

Unfortunately, we've reached the portion of this review where I have to describe the vocal department. Quite honestly, female vocalist Kimiko Shirao has one of the most unique voices I've come across. She sings in a lower pitch some of the time, and hits an extremely high pitch as well. When she's in the lower register, she doesn't pronunciate well at all and it's almost like she's moaning. As if that's not bad enough, her high parts are screechy, whiney and are borderline annoying. Now, to avoid a complete slam on Kimiko as a vocalist, I must admit that she sounds fine when she's more in the mid-range (much of "The circle of fate" for example), but unfortunately she's to the extreme low or extreme high the majority of the time.

But here is what's wierd: I've found that I crave this CD a lot and even though Kimiko's vocals are quite bizarre, the CD isn't unlistenable for me. In addition, I absolutely love the music and if Tarja (ex-Nightwish) or someone of that caliber was to front this band, I'd be raving about them and this would be one of those reviews of mine that are full of explanation points (hehehe). Seriously though, 'Hymnal' musically leaves recent Stratovarius material in the dust. So to sum up the overall quality in a simple way, I'll give the vocals a 1.5/5 (at the absolute highest) and the music a 4.5/5, thus reaching the 3/5 "above average" rating. But beware, this will probably be the most positive review for 'Hymnal' you will come across.




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