4 out of 5 Stars!
What initially drew me to Belgium’s Gwyllion was the singer’s voice. Annelore Vantomme sounds similar to the mighty Floor Jansen (After Forever/ReVamp/Nightwish) in style, range, delivery, and tonal quality. And the band plays a similar style of music to those aforementioned acts, and does so quite well. These similarities are in abundance immediately, with the track “In Silence Enclosed” (a two-and-a-half minute highly orchestrated “grand opening”) lead-in to the song “Entwined.” Here, Annelore blasts forward with her vocals, riding the galloping mile-a-minute beat in queenly fashion. The band is as powerful as a sledgehammer, with the guitarist shredding out the licks and the keyboardist appropriately adorning the background and rhythmic punches with a full range of lush sounds. This two-part opening could have come straight off the final After Forever album or the latest Nightwish release.
“Void” comes next, blasting through the speakers like a charging horse. A momentary break from the frantic pace, however, occurs when a short middle segment—featuring soft grand piano and a melodic vocal bridge section—surprising appears before the song kicks back into high gear. I like how the band shows its diversity on this track when it comes to the arrangement and instrumentation, and thankfully it won’t be the last time either.
“Rage” is another out-and-out slammer in the “Power Metal meets Symphonic Metal” mold, but once again the band provides a momentarily change to catch one’s breath by adding a soft (and again, quite brief) section in the middle before kicking ass directly afterward. This track is one ride through metal mayhem.
A welcome softer pace arrives next in the form of “Beyond Goodbye,” a semi-ballad with diverse instrumentation that really allows Annelore to display the full width of her vocal range and the sheer power of her pipes. It’s an epic-sounding track, to be certain, and one of the album’s high points!
“The Night Awakes” and “Closure” follow, two driving numbers sure to bring smiles to the faces of most Power Metal fans. Both songs also contain a wide range of orchestration and, especially on the latter track, a change in mood in the ending segment that once again showcases Annelore’s awesome voice.
“A Thousand Words” is a track that emphasizes the talent of the band’s rhythm section with some intricate staccato “power beats” that help to drive the song forward, while, at nearly eight minutes, the album’s longest track, “Roots Of Reality,” contains the album’s only real operatic-like vocals, used rather sparingly yet effectively. Needless to say, Nightwish comparisons spring to mind, especially during the magnificently violin-heavy ending section.
Finally, the gentle ballad “Angelheart” closes out the album, featuring nothing but a passionate piano and Annelore’s emotional vocals, again triumphantly shining a musical spotlight on her talent.
Once I finished hearing the album, I couldn’t help thinking that had Nightwish not recently snatched up Floor Jansen as its new vocalist, the band might have considered Annelore for the job. I’m sure she would have fit in just as perfectly.
Be that as it may, this is only Gwyllion’s second album, yet since it was released back in 2009, I certainly hope it won’t be the last we hear from this promising band. Fans of female-led Power Metal/Symphonic Metal/Progressive Metal would do themselves a favor by investigating The Edge Of All I Know. Definitely above average!