Gallia – ‘Obscura’

Introducing Belgian cinematic metal quartet, Gallia. A female fronted band, combining symphonic, fantasy, epic and orchestral metal. Their sound is a potent mixture, likely to appeal to most.

Their debut album, ‘Obscura’ is out now. A well honed sound, produced over 3 years, it’s inspired by the likes of Epica, Nightwish, Xandria, Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman. It promises a journey into the unknown.

‘Obscura’ follows on from 2019’s ‘Everflame’ EP, narrating their battle for the light. Entrusted by an ancient goddess, to keep the flame alive, they did all they could to do so, no matter what.

With that mission complete, Gallia then embarked on a new journey, leading to a changed world and not for the better.

First formed in 2014, the full line-up was established in 2020. (Including backstage/organiser, Joachim). Upon Elyn’s arrival, as vocalist, in 2015, Gallia’s style transformed from power metal, to symphonic metal. ‘Everflame’ was positively acclaimed, by online music media.

Full line-up: Yannick – guitar, Laurens – bass, Eyln – vocals, Ties – current drummer; also contributing, co-founding member, Davy – rhythm guitar, Dieter – drums.

Aperture – Clock ticking intro’s, followed by a classic fantasy mystery film soundtrack-like cinematic arrangement. Short, but very evocative.

Return Of Time – Similar, but this time, opening with a full on orchestral structure. Gently, but powerfully delivered vocals. Lots of melody. An epic sound, very resonant of Nightwish, Epica and the likes. Very classy accompaniment. Very strategically placed, singular drum beats, emphasising the tension. It’s a very strong and sophisticated sound, showcasing strong grasp of effective build-up of intrigue and anticipation. The background choirs do a lot, to that end.

Blackout Queen – Dramatic intro! Another similar, but this time, riff-based refrain. Typically symphonic vocals, with all the skill and beauty that entails. Rhythmic drumming, taking it up, to a more active pace, with thunderous atmosphere. Beautiful, fantasy vocals, heightening the tension, till the end, filling the space with lyrical intrigue.

Mirage – Curious piano intro, performed with a black and white silent movie-esque melodic arrangement. Moving into darkly romantic, yet haunting vocals. It’s a more complex rhythm, featuring sporadic accordion sections, evoking French settings, enhanced by the subtlety, alternating with drama. Sudden echo sections hit, 3/4 in, preceding more of the sense of fading darkness, at the end. A very powerful track.

Reflection – Wind-up noises open, revealing a fragile, jewellery box style ballerina melody. Then a sudden wall of drama slams into you, soon alternating with the delicate dancer melody. Increasing the heavier sections, intensifying their power, revealing a strong sense of driving threat, chasing you, with urgent menace. Again, subtle shades are played out, via glockenspiel and vivid imagery. Continuing, with this same dance of darkening terror and playful light, throughout. Very Ward XVI-esque.

Path Of The Nomad – Booming intro, evoking battle-esque imagery. Here, the drums interplay with woodwind accompaniments. Very foresty sounds, carrying powerful fantasy themes. It’s a very appealing sound. Gorgeous combo of magical instrumentals and atmospherics. It’s got that sense of connection down well. Beautifully performed, blending everything from fantasy folk, to epic metal and cinematic symphonics. A standout track, with a lot of heart.

Free Me – Opening with bongo drums, amidst a jungle backdrop. Soon joining that solitary sound, with a naturally fitting range of accompaniments. In this, there’s something to appease the tastes of many. Just a light vocal touch here, yielding to a mainly instrumental arrangement. Ending just a tad too soon. It’s still wonderfully atmospheric, though.

Spirit Of The Sea – A dramatic intro evokes instant visuals of epic battles and fantasy landscapes. Here, the choral sections are very strong. Catchy chorus and effective command of the delicate balance of light and dark, soft and heavy, intensity and retreat. Very epic vocals hit, towards the end. Great holding of that final note.

Chaos – Slamming walls of darkness hit, at the opening, continuing with that same atmosphere. Again, it balances darkness and light well. Good placing of the choral backing sections. There’s much strength in these vocals and a great driving beat accompanying. That bridge peak’s equally subtle and notable. Unexpected Eastern mysticism follows. Effective wildcard. Steady tension build. Vocals rising and soaring, amongst the heavy outro, combined with more mystical sounds. A touch of class.

Euphoria – Opening with mediaeval stringed instruments and then fresh sounding metallics. Once again, that breathy blast of mysticism adds another dimension. Always, vocally effortless. Pushing on, to a bigger sound, with a beautifully magical twist of soprano recorder/piccolo. All retreating and returning, alternately, as that powerfully melodic finale hits.

Tears Of Gold – Slower intro, still retaining the mystery, segueing into an instantly dark fantasy atmosphere. Once more, that evident clear command of heightening and lowering atmospherics is clear, throughout. Building it up, into a really melodic refrain. Adding clanking mechanics, now. A heavy beat drives it on. Again, gorgeous combo of accompaniments, adding so much light and life and revealing perspective. Booming drums bang heavily, at the bridge. Swiftly moving into a beautifully blended vocal and instrumental section. Brilliantly orchestrated. Urgently pushing the lyrical message home, towards the end, as the ticking clock returns, just before the spooky fade-out.

New World – Solemnity enters, now. Very dark, sombre melody, delivered in funereal tones. Slowly building it up, to an equally solemn, but sporadically more powerful vocal. Just a strong mournful sense to this, yet it does climb higher, peaking, at the bridge. Smoothly segueing, from there, to a much stronger structure. Joined by the backing choirs, the vocals are boosted, hugely, ending on an exultant peak.

Overall – Stacked with light, darkness and ever heightening drama, ‘Obscura’ is a magnificent album, revealing depth and intricacy, combining an impressive range of musical dexterity and versatility. It’s USP has to be its skilled reflection of multi-genres, within genres, plus its excitingly unpredictable twists and turns, utilising multiple instruments, whilst conveying all the inherent atmospherics. A goldmine of metallic sensations.

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

For fans of Ward XVI, Epica, Nightwish, Aonia, Turisas, Dark Forest, Pagandom, ARDDUC, Sabaton, HROM, Heirs Of Isildur, Herzel, Askvader, Adamantis, Gaia Epicus, SYRYN, Urania Fantasia, Morgarten, Lord Of The Rings, Marius Danielsen, Winter Eve, Viking Queen, Ice Sword, Ice War, A Ballad Of Heartbreak And Despair, Tragedy And Triumph, Maleficent, Malfested.


Posted October 29, 2022 by jennytate in Uncategorized

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