4 out of 5 Stars!
End of the Dream is a new band from the Netherlands that features a terrific female vocalist named Micky Huijsmans. The material is a combination of Progressive Metal, Gothic Metal, and Symphonic Metal, with the band covering similar territory as After Forever, Within Temptation, and Nightwish, and more. Despite those comparisons, however, Huijsmans doesn’t employ the same operatic vocal gymnastics so common with bands of this nature, but has more of a clean Metal style throughout most of the nine tracks.
Yes, there is grandeur, wonderfully overblown symphonic orchestrations along with some bombastic metal, rich and layered “choirs” in the background on some of the tracks, but the melodies are also quite appealing. Everything I’ve mentioned is immediately evident on the opening track, “Follow the Angels,” which features a lavish introduction that sounds as if it could have come directly off a Nightwish album. Also, Huijsmans displays her full vocal range here, soaring to the heights on the choruses and briefly during the ending section, but never using the operatic vibrato normally associated with female singers in similar bands.
End of the Dream also successfully balances both softer segments with the harder, slamming ones. The song “Away” is a good example of this, where the verses are mellow and beautifully orchestrated with keys behind Huijsmans’s vocals, whereas the choruses are full and dense with guitars galore, while the entire band appropriately pounds away during the middle guitar solo.
One of my favorites, “Shadows Embrace,” is another track that showcases the band’s range of skills, with luxurious keyboard orchestrations acting as the perfect backdrop for the main and chunky guitar riff. The rhythm section adds its thumping drive, while Huijsmans’s vocals shine over the top. Some complex instrumentation in the song’s middle section (including an outrageously good guitar solo) brings to mind several Prog-Metal bands in the style of Symphony X. Good stuff!
Several tracks, “All I Am,” along with “Collide” and “Gone,” the latter two being luscious ballads, further parade Huijsmans’s extraordinary talent to the listener, and are probably the tracks, given their more straightforward approach and lofty melodies, that could easily appeal to the widest audience possible.
But “Dark Reflection” is undoubtedly my favorite. Here, End of the Dream presents its full range of capabilities, again embracing the style of complex Prog-Metal regularly delivered by acts such as Kamelot or Symphony X and merging it with the melodic sensibilities of female-led bands such as Within Temptation or Nightwish. At more than nine minutes in length, with shifts in moods and rhythms and diverse instrumentation throughout, this in an epic track to be certain.
Is there anything new here in the world of Prog-Metal or Symphonic Metal? Definitely not, but who cares since the talented band does what it does so damned well. All I Am is a generally impressive debut album, and fans of all the aforementioned bands will probably appreciate this addition to the ranks of female-led Symphonic-Metal acts as much as I do. I eagerly await more material, and I pray that for End of the Dream, it’s actually only just the beginning of a long and successful dream instead.