You gotta love Progressive Metal (or Progressive Rock, depending on how you look at it). If well cooked, adequately spiced and served hot, this is a delight to listen to. Stream of Passion‘s debut album Embrace the Storm does exactly that. The whole is rendered (almost) irresistible by the inclusion of Psychedelic (some at least), Gothic and Symphonic Metal elements into the tune. Not to forget that Embrace the Storm features a double female front – at least for the live shows: The sisters Diana and Marcela Bovio. And don’t we all love that, especially with both being very talented at their trade? To top it, you got the somewhat oriental flavors and tastes woven into the fabric of this here flying carpet. Now THIS spices the tune up just to the right level of heat.
Embrace the Storm with Stream of Passion as a supporting band was one of the projects of Arjen Lucassen back in 2005. In an interview Arjen indicated that this was done to foster Marcela Bovio, whose many talents needed a platform or in Arjen’s words: “..to avoid letting a good thing go to waste…”. Hmm, kind of a weird way to describe a talent sponsorship. It is thus a concept album of sorts – to set up the band Stream of Passion as an entity. Name well chosen, by the way of Marcela’s passionately delivered lyrics.
Arjen left the band after recording this album and playing a few shows together with Lori Linstruth – the female lead guitar player. And what a talent too, she really (really, really) plays this guitar well. The keyboard is very skillfully served by Alejandro Millan on this vinyl delight, always much in the background, never taking over. Alejandro left the band as well in 2007.
Embrace the Storm is artfully composed and flawlessly produced. You can feel the passion and the team oriented approach. It is actually like the perfect storm, no one element is overwhelmingly present: Vocals artfully and passionately delivered. Stellar riffs and rhythm guitar always alternating perfectly. The somewhat simplistic yet stellar drum work always in the background – never overwhelming. This is by the way one of the major positive points on this record. And then the stellar work on the keyboard: Again finely tuned against the rest of the ensemble. Well – hells bells – it just fits. Almost too well, nothing really out of place.
And the record is best consumed in one piece and by way of its structure best seen in concert. Stream of Passion clearly manufactured this album to please the crowd. A pity that they did not continue in the same vein for the follow-on albums. Because this kind of tune really fills the music hall.
Apart from a feeling of being over-engineered to a point, Embrace the Storm does not display any major flaws. Perhaps that towards the last third of the record, the song structure becomes a little repetitive. And sadly this will knock a star off the rating – so be it.
No track is really bad and it will depend on preference and taste which one will go first. I can recommend Passion – of course, Haunted – in a geeky kind of way. It is an irresistible mix between spoken vocals in Spanish and a refrain in English with medieval/melodic elements in there. Gothic that – I like it. Wherever You Are eerily mixes atmospheric passages with downturned guitar interludes and a solo thrown in. Embrace the Storm – the title song – again surprises with soft passages and harder ones.
Embrace the Storm – the album – displays a passionate and exuberant style. A happy jambalaya of styles actually that defies boxes, silos and genres. Very difficult to place into this area or that, it just rockets ahead to passionate musical stardom. It is this energetic authenticity that really delivers. Listening to the album for a few times, you will find yourself irresistibly drawn to it. Like a bee to honey. It WILL get under your skin and follow you around, mark my words. And it will – as it has been proven – be very difficult to duplicate this kind of performance for the band in the future. As The Flame Within and A War of Our Own can attest. Stellar performance, band, thank you very much!
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