Who would have thought that Xandria would evolve in this way. From the almost failed (oh yeah..), but widely hyped album Neverworld’s End, I had no great hopes for Sacrificium, the newest concoction of these Germans from Bielefeld.
Especially because the band likes to disband their front women at a very rapid pace. With that kind of turnover, you just will have trouble with succession. And the delivery of quality work – unless your singer is just a voice-piece. And let’s hope that this is not the case with this band. Honi soit qui mal y pense! As we say in French.
But then, one can always be positively impressed, right?
To its credit, Sacrificium improves on its metal parts. They now deliver Symphonic and Gothic Metal at a level that will hold its water with big, established bands in this specific genre. And this is definitely a step up this steep ladder to total stardom. Even if their style sometimes tilts a bit too much into Power Metal territory. And THAT is worrying.
Thus, Sacrificium serves much better quality, albeit a trifle overweight on bombast, I daresay. Like in too much symphonic goodness, kind of overdone. And much of the same, over-saturating your ears after a while.
The new Dutch front Dianne van Giersbergen is much better suited to the band’s style, not some kind of Tarja copy like the last offering. And I for sure hope that the band will be able to keep her on board a bit longer than their track record suggests. Even if she focuses a bit too much on the opera style for my taste. And sometimes, just sometimes the dreaded Tarja still intrudes. Guys, this is metal, not opera! Or supposedly so.
Sacrificium takes off with an epic production called … Sacrificium – the title track. It goes on for some 10 minutes total, monologue included, which is pretty brave for an entry song. And it managed to really get my attention levels up! But to deliver the cherry on the cake already in the beginning?
But whatever they say, it IS an epic beginning to things. Seamlessly followed by Nightfall, the one with this great solo. Track no 4, Stardust really got on my good side, too! Again, this one comes with a pretty good solo, and it sports a pretty cool riff as well. And this is one of the major strengths of this album. Compared to former works, Xandria really kicked this up a notch, not only morphing to full-blown Symphonic Metal, but also by adding real quality in the technical department. Guitar play, solos and so on all got some mighty vitamin shot.
Another track giving this album some spice is Betrayer that shows some pretty good metal signs with some dark solos. Even if they tried a bit too hard to – again – imitate an opera and other already existing styles. Tarja are you there?
Will the record reach the heights of Ravenheart or India? Frankly, I don’t think they can really be compared. The style morphed from a halting Melodic Metal style to full blown Symphonic Metal. And they learned well from the biggies like Nightwish. Also, this is much speedier material more reminiscent of bands like Diabulus in Musica and Epica. Even if the latter completely overdid it in their 2014 edition of quantum enigmas and such.
All in all, Sacrificium is much better paced than the last album. A step up from the last production and for sure an important change in direction. And with Dianne van Giersbergen, Xandria landed a much more potent front and better interpreter.
I continue to be a big fan of Xandria and am looking forward to the next record. Hopefully they will be able to improve away from this somewhat overdone piece to a fresher style. The future will tell.