Italian Symphonic Metal outfit Astralium have cranked the symphonic element up to eleven with their latest album ‘Land of Eternal Dreams.’ It is everything you’d expect from this genre, and like many great albums, the story and music flow gracefully from start to finish.
The album opens with Remembrance, which begins softly and peacefully, but quickly turns dramatic and suspenseful with hanging violins. Only a minute in and the horn section along with soaring choral voices fills this introduction out to epic proportions. The Journey starts with a bang and gets straight to it. The intro fills you with a sense of adventure, before Roberta Pappalardo comes in with her vocals. What I interpret from the lyrics is that they focus around the idea that a journey is more important that the destination. In classic symphonic form, mystic visions, dreams and chaos feature heavily.
Without hesitation, Rising Waves from the Ocean opens with a bang! A dramatic intro rolls into suspenseful building verses. It’s a pretty heavy song, and fast-paced too – it doesn’t slow down at the verses, and the choruses have an ominous atmosphere helped by additional choral vocals. A dynamic guitar solo graces your ears at around the two-thirds mark that then flows into a more hectic and tense bridge. This song is full of changing sections that are all pulled together by the underlying rhythm.
My Life is my Eternity begins slow and unsuspecting, but with the introduction of orchestral strings you know the song means business. The vocals in the first verse are a back-and-forth style, which adds to the story element. Musically the verses aren’t over the top, which is then balanced by the fist-raising goodness in the choruses. A chugging breakdown preempts a section filled with strangely timed guitar riffs and an impending-doom style choir. Before you have time to think, Whisper in the Silence explodes into action. Crashing cymbals and heavy orchestral backing make the intro of this song. The song is non-stop action-packed musical goodness.
Hope is Gone is a pretty heavy track that’s balanced by the soaring vocals. It transitions between crunchy heavy guitar riffs to graceful piano-heavy sections. I particularly like the melody in this song – it invokes some kind of melancholy emotion while still being exciting at the same time. With a slow piano intro, Breath of my Soul is a break from the otherwise energetic songs. When I said the previous song was melancholy, this is a step up from that. Both the lyrics and the music hit fairly hard emotionally. The second half of the song is heavily instrumental and piano dominates, before the outgoing chorus hits you one last time.
A Dream’s Elegy gets back into an energetic mood, with uplifting orchestral elements and glorious choruses that bring you up and out of the low feeling from the previous song.
Three-quarters through the album, Seven Seas, Seven Winds is a very dynamic tune. If they were aiming for over the top, they certainly achieved it here. With interesting timing, heavy guitar riffs, growly vocals, and over-the-top orchestral sections, this song is jam-packed with adventure.
Ethereal Voices from the Forest begins with a soothing tune that evolves, with haunting vocals coming in shortly after. The music is very calming to listen to, in stark contrast with the previous songs. About halfway, some suspenseful drums and orchestral parts come in and change the mood from calm to expectant. There are no lyrics in this song, and I found my imagination running off into a deep forest before coming out the other side with the next song.
Seamlessly transitioning into The World of Unknown, the song begins much how the previous song ended – but before long that breaks into a really heavy guitar riff that sets the scene for the rest of the song. The overall rhythm section is pretty tame compared with the other songs. The second half is dominated by instrumental adventures and really operatic vocals.
Hidden Conspiracy is an interesting song that begins very unassumingly with some melancholic melody, before snapping back into an energetic rhythm. The choruses feature really piercing harmonising vocals that add a beautiful balance to the heavy guitar rhythm behind it.
The final track is a bonus orchestral-only version of Hope is Gone – and it’s always exciting to see bonus tracks! This version is quite different to the first version, as there are no guitars, vocals, or standard drum kits featuring. It’s a very moving track and a great way to round off the album.
Overall this was a wild ride from start to finish, and definitely fit the Symphonic Metal bill! Astralium certainly packed plenty of adventure and musical dynamics into this album. If you absolutely love Symphonic Metal then this is album worth listening to.
Preorder Astralium’s ‘Land of Eternal Dreams’ HERE!