Aonia – ‘The Seven’   Leave a comment

A 7 piece operatic/prog metal band, with 2 mind-blowingly powerful soprano vocalists, twin guitars, symphonic keyboards and strong drums and bass, Aonia are commonly tagged as similar to Therion, Avantasia, Nightwish, Epica and Revamp. This year alone, they won Bloodstock Metal To The Masses Sheffield, performed on the New Blood stage and did their preliminary European tour, with Alwaid (F).

Released on October 6th, their debut album, ‘The Seven’, was unleashed to the world during Aonia Fest II, at The Corporation, Sheffield. Guest featuring Blaze Bayley and Iliana Basileios Tsakiraki (Enemy Of Reality), ‘TS’ was recorded at Black Carrot Studios and mastered by Scott Atkins of Grindstone Studio (Cradle Of Filth, Savage Messiah, Sylosis, Amon Amarth).

‘TS’ will be promoted during a UK tour, for which, preparation is currently in progress. Aonia will also perform as special guests at 4 shows, as part of Blaze Bayley’s ‘Tour Of The Eagle Spirit’.

Aonia’s previous achievements include playing the renowned Dames Of Darkness and SOS Fests and also supporting Leaves Eyes, Xandria, Kobra and the Lotus, Warrior Soul, Skyclad, Dakesis, Azylya and Forever Never. Lately endorsed by Vocalzone, Joanne Kay Robinson and Melissa Adams (vocals), trained by globally famous Victorian opera expert Martin Yates, were both featured on Blaze Bayley’s last 3 albums, ‘The Redemption Of William Black’, ‘Infinite Entanglement’ and ‘Endure and Survive’. Two years ago, they also performed alongside him at Huskvarna Rock and Art Fest, Sweden.

Now commissioned to make a guitar for Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), guitarist Przemeck ‘Slick’ Druzkowski is currently continuing with his business of custom making his own signature guitars, whilst James ‘Carrot’ Brough continues his newly established recording business, at Black Carrot Studios. Aonia collectively press ahead with crafting the band and its performances, injecting more theatricality, each time.

Sold My Soul – Opening on a solemn keyboard section, a brief spoken episode and then a soaring guitar riff, before the soprano vocals kick in, with Aonia’s characteristic upbeat way. Displaying a beautifully performed twin vocal, ably assisted by the magical sounding riffs, melting into your soul, like liquid chocolate, down your throat. Powerful drums add the insistent, precisely timed back beat, as the pace increases and the joy just emanates from the vocals. Ending on a definitive drum beat and uplifting keyboard solo, it’s a great, well-defined intro to the album.

Violet Hours – Introing on a high vibe, demonstrated by a fabulous team effort, slotting together, with absolute cohesion. Those vocals soar, like a bird, injecting palpable atmosphere, enhanced by the intricate accompaniments. Here, the riffs really come into their own, chasing up and down the scales, with vibrant melody, while the keys add meaning to the darkening mood and the vocal efforts finish the track, with poignant pathos.

Wake Up, Lucretia! – Carefully performed instrumentals intro, picking out and conveying those plucky singular note formations, as the sopranos pierce the shell of your mind. Ethereal  beauty flows through those mystical vocals, giving it all they’ve got, with that winning operatic formula. The riffs just slide and glide in there, so intuitively, in perfect sync. It’s very visual in its format, increasing the heightened theatricality, till the end.

Still, I Rise – Precise, banging riff and drum intro, as Blaze’s unmistakable voice kicks in, accompanied by Mel and Joanne, so artistically. The power just shines out of this track, with real appeal. Catchy, yet complex, refreshingly unique, with a real individual slant, combining operatic with power and prog metal. It works and stunningly well. Lifting the melody and mood higher, taking you with it, it’s truly entrancing. Sharply finished, on a brilliantly eclectic vocal, showcasing the strength inherent in combined masculine and feminine efforts. Astounding.

Siren’s Lament – Acute, magical keyboard focused intro, broken into by those angelic vocals, before slick power riffs join in. There’s genuine depth to this performance, revealing itself through every note. The emotion’s palpable, as is the accompanying vision and sound of the siren, as the vocals get shriller, to the end. It’s a very evocative vision, playing out throughout the track and it has you hanging on every note. The theatrical energy is very much present and so resonant, as to be seductive.

Eye Of The Storm – Gorgeously picturesque sea sound effects, creating a powerfully vivid Viking image, introing. Beautiful melodic vocals take over, yet the image remains. A massive theatrical component creates a scene of its own, moving fluidly, through the track. The drums alone hold such strength in every beat. Hypnotic.

Heartsword – Bang! Drums defining that intro, moving straight into the mood of the song. There’s a very celtic/folky aspect to the vocals here, narrating tales of old, with total plausibility. As the shrill sopranos hit the highest registers, the song lifts with them and the riffs and drums follow. A magical interplay of sounds pick up the beat, chasing each other, through a race of multi-sensory adventure, till the end.

At The Masquerade – Well-controlled rhythm opens and everything comes together, in an immensely accessible performance. Some really intriguing keyboard sections in there, as it plays out, like a metal musical. The melody heightens, as the rhythm maintains its momentum and it’s a slightly slower pace, but it suits the depiction of the track title and it’s a clean, flawless, polished delivery.

If You Dare – Slowly opening, with a contemplative theme, revealed through emotionally performed vocals and similarly conveyed accompaniments. Some really vibrant keyboard sections enhance the mid-section further, as the riffs bring even more heightened feeling to things, with a slight Whitesnake-esque twang. Again, the vocals dictate the mood, with real melancholy, enhanced by the higher registers in which they’re sung.

Hyde And Seek – Intriguing scenes of battles and chases are constructed, at the outset, deeper entrenched by the breathlessness and screams. Taking a different direction, helped along by the heavy keys, depicting church organs and wurlitzers. Slowing down the pace and moving into a sense of emerging relief, the riffs lift it out of the doldrums, assisted by the powerful vocals and more forceful masculine narration. Mysterious story-line, all the more imagery evoking for the faster paced riffs. Slowing things back down again, towards the end and deepening the tone, to a more solemn depth, the vocals sing in unison, in a higher register, once more, as it ends, thoughtfully and melodically.

Overall – 10 tracks of phenomenal, mind-blowingly powerful metal, with magic, mystery and intrigue running deeply, through every note. ‘The Seven’ is a treasure trove of entrancement, demonstrative of the heights of which Aonia are capable. Throwing their all into every piece they produce, their stamina and multi-talented approach always shows through, just as it does here. Inventive and eclectic, intelligently crafted, with intricacy and precision, ‘TS’ really is a superior store of darkly enigmatic power, both thrilling and enthralling.

10/10 **********

For fans of Nightwish, Evanescence, Lacuna Coil, Delain, Within Temptation, Leaves Eyes, Tarja Turunnen.

Posted October 23, 2018 by jennytate in Uncategorized

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