Released By : Inner Wound Recordings
Release Date: November 23rd, 2018
Genre: Power Metal
Nicoletta Rosellini – Vocals
Federico Paolini – Guitars
Roberto Donati – Bass
Dario Gozzi – Drums
1. Frozen Throne
2. Circe’s Spell
3. Black Sails
5. To the Darkness I Belong
6. Myth of Massada
7. Midnight’s Chant
8. Go Beyond
11. Queen of the Forsaken
I’ve reviewed quite a few bands in recent years, who have managed to make pretty big improvements from album to album, and now the latest band to pull this off is Italian power metal band Kalidia. When I first heard their debut, Lies Device, back in 2014, to say I was unimpressed would be a pretty big understatement. There were moments where it clicked for me, but the songwriting left much to be desired, and the overall sound was, honestly, quite amateurish and close to what one might expect to hear from a demo. When I saw the band had a new album coming out this year, I wasn’t exactly in a rush to hear it. In fact, I had initially planned on ignoring it completely, but then a friend linked me to the video for the title track and first single, and I was so impressed, I ended up giving the album a shot in the end. Now that I’ve played Frozen Throne several times over, I’m happy to say Kalidia has taken a massive step forward, probably one of the biggest I’ve ever seen from a band going from their debut to their second release, and this new release is sure to win them many new fans.
From what I remember, Lies Device was some fairly straight-forward power metal, with slight gothic leanings, where Frozen Throne is a much more epic release, with a ton of symphonic elements thrown in. I wouldn’t quite say they’ve moved to a full symphonic power metal sound, as those elements aren’t always present, but they’re certainly an important part of several tracks like “Black Sails”, “To the Darkness, I Belong” and “Queen of the Forsaken”. There’s still a ton of straight Euro power metal here, but there’s a lot more energy to the music than on the debut, and the overall sound is much stronger and more polished. There are many sections where keyboards and symphonic elements dominate, and it’s a very melodic, vocal-driven album on the whole, but there are sometimes where some heavy guitar work kicks in, and it can be very good. The instrumental sections are especially impressive, with some very explosive and fun, yet also very melodic guitar solos. Most tracks alternate between speedy passages and slower passages, and there are quite a bit of tempo changes throughout, though the songs are generally fairly simple and easy to follow, highlighted by some very catchy choruses. Many of the songs use a basic pattern of slower verses and fast choruses, which is the kind of thing that can get tiring over the length of a full album, but the band manages to pull everything off well enough to keep me fully hooked the whole time, as well as changing the formula up just often enough to keep the songs fresh for the album’s duration. If anything, I think the band could maybe be a bit more ambitious with future releases, but compared to their debut, this is a huge step forward, with every song being consistently engaging, and the overall sound is massively improved, with the guitars hitting hard in bursts, drums sounding good, and the epic symphonic elements add an extra layer to several tracks, and really enhance the sections where they appear.
One aspect of Kalidia’s music that already showed promise on Lies Device was vocalist Nicoletta Rosellini, who stood out with a much deeper voice than one would expect from the genre, and while her vocals weren’t fully polished yet, they were already pretty good, and she was easily the best thing about the album. Four years later, she sounds much stronger and more confident on this release, and she helps enhance some already great songs. Her excellent lower register has only gotten better over the years, and she can alternate from singing soft, almost pop-like vocals at times, to being more fiery and aggressive during some heavier passages, and she does so fluidly and very effectively. Her voice can be absolutely beautiful at times, but when she gets more intense it’s fittingly powerful, and no matter the song, she always does a great job. The one issue I have with her vocals is her Italian accent can get in the way at times, and some words sound slightly off, but that’s a common thing with Italian singers, so it’s no big deal. Otherwise, though, she’s easily my favorite thing about Kalidia once again except now everything else also sounds great, and so she gets to shine even more.
While Frozen Throne would have already been a big step up for the band just based on the overall sound, one of the most impressive things about it is how consistently excellent the songwriting is. It gets off to a strong start with the title track, which I already mentioned also serves as the lead single, and it’s an excellent one, starting off with some beautiful melodic guitar work, before the full band kicks in and the song speeds up, moving at a fast pace for a while, before slowing down during some fun verses, where Nicoletta takes over with her super smooth, deep voice. While the verses are slow paced, they have a lot of energy to them and are quite enjoyable, but then when the song speeds up again for the chorus, it becomes all the more epic, as the chorus is equal parts fun, catchy and super addictive, and already shows signs of the band taking a big step forward. The instrumental section is also great, with an excellent guitar solo, which has a very classic power metal feel to it, and overall the song is one of the best on the album, as well as being a great indication of what to expect. Next is the third single “Circe’s Spell”, which has a slight Middle Eastern feel to it, mostly from the symphonic melodies early on, as well as some of the melodies. It follows roughly the same formula as the title track, with slow verses giving way to a speedy chorus, except it’s a bit lighter and more melodic overall. It’s another excellent track, overall, and makes a bit more use of the epic symphonic elements. Speaking of which, second single “Black Sails” is one of the tracks where the symphonic elements are most notable, as it has an epic, sweeping arrangement that immediately gives it a pirate feel. It’s the most relaxed of the first three tracks, with more slow verses, and even the speed increase during the chorus is a bit more subtle. It’s still an epic track, with some great vocal melodies, and the pirate theme is cool.
After a strong the start, the album keeps the momentum going with “Orpheus”, which starts off slow and soft, with some nice atmospheric keyboards, and it actually stays rather calm for a while, until the guitars kick in just in time for the chorus, and it charges full speed ahead, with some epic classic power metal at its finest, and that gives way to an epic solo, which keeps the classic power metal feel. It’s a short, but very fun track which makes effective use of tempo changes throughout. Next is another favorite in “To The Darkness, I Belong”, which makes use of a violin for its symphonic elements. It starts out as another softer track, with a slight pop feel, before speeding up for an intense, but the super catchy chorus, and it makes great use of symphonic elements again in the second half, where the music gets really epic. In case the album wasn’t already going strong, my personal favorite comes next, that being “The Myth of Massada”. It’s a darker feeling track, where the symphonic elements have an extra level of tension to them, and it’s a song that stays fairly fast throughout, with some the darkest, heaviest guitar work on the album, which gives way to another super fun and catchy chorus, as well as one of the most intense and epic solo sections on the album. To take it to further heights, the track features guest vocals from Victorius singer David Bassin, who sounds as great as always, lending his intense and powerful vocals during the second verse.
After an excellent sequence of songs, the pace slows down briefly for “Midnight’s Chant”, the lone ballad of the album. It starts off as a nice piano ballad, with some symphonic backing, and it serves as a nice showcase for Nicoletta’s voice, starting out soft early on, before opening up with more powerful vocals later in the track. The full band kicks in for the first chorus, and while it remains soft throughout, there’s some nice instrumental work, including a great guitar solo. Next are two speedier tracks in “Go Beyond” and “Amethyst”, which are both classic power metal sounding tracks with minor symphonic elements. They both stay fast-paced throughout, and have a mix between great guitar work and excellent vocals, especially during the choruses, with the latter being a tad more intense and slightly more memorable, though both are excellent. Closing out the album are two tracks which follow a familiar formula, with “Lotus” starting out soft and slow during the verses, before opening up with a speedy chorus, while closing track “Queen of the Forsaken” does the same, except its heavier throughout, with some very powerful vocal during the verses. It also has one of the best choruses on the album, as well as an excellent solo section, to help make it a strong closing track.
I had very little expectations for Frozen Throne, at least until I heard the title track, but it certainly turned out to be a pleasant surprise and is actually one of the best symphonic power metal albums I’ve heard this year. Compared to the debut, everything sounds more powerful, more epic, more polished, more fully fleshed out, and just plain better. Newcomers to the band can expect some very well played classic power metal, with some great guitar work in bursts as well as some epic symphonic elements, consistently catchy and fun songwriting, and some excellent female vocals, which strike a nice balance between being soft and powerful at different times. For a band, I expected nothing from Kalidia managed to come up big with Frozen Throne, and so I hope they can keep the momentum going and produce more great music in the future!
Written by: Travis Green