Released By: Rockshots Records
Release Date: August 23rd, 2019
Genre: Symphonic Power Metal
Roberta Pappalardo – Vocals, Piano
Emanuele Alessandro – Guitars
Giuseppe Pappalardo – Bass
Salvo Grasso – Drums, Vocals
2. The Journey
3. Rising Waves from the Ocean
4. My Life is My Eternity
5. Whisper in the Silence
6. Hope is Gone
7. Breath of My Soul
8. A Dream’s Elegy
9. Seven Seas, Seven Winds
10. Ethereal Voices from the Forest
11. The World of Unknown
12. Hidden Conspiracy
13. Hope is Gone (Orchestral Version) (Bonus Track)
While I always enjoy music from many different countries, I find Italian bands, in particular, tend to have some kind of special touch, some kind of special knack for coming up with the absolute most wonderful melodies possible, and this is something that has been proven over and over again throughout the past several years, by many different bands. Joining that list of bands is the up and coming symphonic power metal band Astralium, whose debut release, Land of Eternal Dreams, has left me completely stunned and blown away!
Astralium was formed in 2014 by vocalist Roberta Pappalardo and bassist Giuseppe Pappalardo, and over time they have brought in guitarist Emanuelle Alessandro and drummer Salvo Grasso, to complete their lineup. The band plays a brand of epic symphonic power metal along the lines of early Nightwish, with some Epica influence, as well as having some slight prog elements in their music. Instrumentally, all musicians do an excellent job, with the guitar work being equal parts melodic, heavy and very technically impressive at times, with some excellent solo sections and punishing riffs, while the keyboards are quite prominent and very epic, as expected, and there’s a constant use of orchestral elements throughout the release, which greatly increase the scale and scope of the tracks, while also adding some extra flavor. Everything sounds fantastic, and even just judging the album on a purely instrumental level, my enjoyment is extremely high, thanks to the quality of the performances as well as due to how beautiful the melodies are on every track. Songwriting is also impressive, as there’s quite a bit of variety, from more straight-forward power metal, with slight symphonic elements, to epic symphonic power metal in the vein of early Nightwish, to more extreme symphonic power metal along the lines of some Epica songs, including the use of growls on a few tracks, as well as the occasional slower track, a couple more progressive tracks, and an excellent ballad. Every song is amazing in its own way, and there are no less than excellent moments on the entire album, which is extremely impressive for a debut!
The highlight of the entire album, though, has to be the vocals. Simply put: Roberta Pappalardo is a fantastic singer, with a powerful voice, and she’s able to alternate fluidly between being very smooth, very beautiful in a very accessible way, to at times being much more aggressive and intense, as well as varying nicely between low and higher notes, and holding some pretty impressive long notes, at times. Her performance across the album is flawless, but she’s also backed up quite a bit, both by some excellent guest vocalists, and some equally excellent choir vocals, which are used rather sparingly, but they’re quite impressive whenever they appear. There are also some very theatrical, very impressive operatic vocals at times, and I’m unsure whether or not they’re performed by Roberta or the choirs, but either way, they sound fantastic, especially on the very beautiful track “The World of Unknown”.
As impressive as the performances are, a band needs to be able to write some great songs to really stand out, and thankfully, Astralium has certainly delivered on that front. Following a brief but very nice intro, that sets the mood with some nice orchestral arrangements, opening track and lead single “The Journey” kicks in, with some very epic symphonic arrangements, before slowing down a bit and giving way to a nice opening verse, with some excellent vocal melodies, and then the chorus kicks in and it’s extremely fun and catchy. The track never goes full speed, but it moves along at a nice pace, and while it’s one of the lighter tracks on the album, it still has some great instrumental work, especially during a nice orchestral section in the second half, which is followed up by some heavier guitar work that brings the song towards its end. As great as that track is, though, it’s only a small indication of what’s to come, with “Rising Waves from the Ocean” being bigger, heavier, faster and yet somehow even more melodic, and it’s an absolute killer of a track! It moves along at a rapid pace, with huge symphonic arrangements, more powerful vocals from Roberta, and it has one of the catchiest, most addictive choruses on the album, which certainly brings classic Nightwish to mind, in the best way possible. Things only pick up later on, first with a brief but awesome guest appearance from Reinxeed vocalist Tommy Johansson, which is then followed by a nice guitar solo, some awesome orchestral sections, an epic choral vocal section, followed by an atmospheric, very effective vocal section from Roberta, and then eventually followed by an epic final run through the chorus, where Tommy returns and joins Roberta for an epic duet. All in all, it’s an absolute stunner of a track, and one of my favorites of the year, for sure!
After that amazing track, the momentum keeps up with “My Life is My Eternity”. The track kicks off with some nice atmospheric keys and orchestral arrangements, and then the pace quickly picks up, before slowing down for the verses. The track alternates between mid-paced verses and a speedy chorus and features some nice, smooth male vocals at points, which I believe are performed by drummer Salvo Grasso, though I’m not completely sure on that. Either way, it’s a great track, with nice varied tempos, great vocal performances, fun verses, an excellent chorus, and an amazing instrumental section, which contains some very chunky guitar work. Next is “Whisper in the Silence, another speedy, heavier track, which does a great job of mixing in epic symphonic elements and speedy power metal, with some very heavy guitar work. During the verses, Ancestral vocalist Jo Lombardo makes an appearance, and he delivers some very strong vocals, sounding pretty close to Serenity’s Georg Neuhauser, except with a bit more of an edge to his voice.
Both vocalists do an excellent job, along with the choirs, and it’s another epic, very fun and catchy track, with some outstanding vocal melodies and another amazing chorus, as well as an amazing end sequence, where the tempo goes into overdrive, and there are more epic vocals.
The pace slows down for a bit, first with “Hope is Gone”, which is book-ended by two epic speedy passages, but it’s a fairly slow, melodic and very symphonic track in the middle, with fairly relaxed verses, and a calm but very powerful chorus, with some excellent vocals. It’s a calm, atmospheric track, and is quite excellent. The band also included a bonus orchestral version of that track at the end of the album, which is entirely instrumental, and non-metal. It’s a very nice piece, and makes for great background music, though I prefer the normal version. Following the normal version of that song is the lone ballad of the album, “Breath of My Soul”, and it’s a very beautiful piano ballad, with calm verses and an amazing chorus. It serves as an amazing vocal showcase for Roberta, who is stunning throughout the track, starting very softly, but pouring tons of emotion into the track, especially during the chorus, and her performance gets stronger and more intense throughout, with the final run through the chorus being absolutely incredible.
Following that slower section, the pace picks up again with “A Dream’s Elegy”, another song which has a very strong Nightwish feel to it, though the band pulls it off perfectly, with epic symphonic arrangements, a huge chorus, and some very powerful vocals from Roberta, who sings with an extra level of roughness compared to normal, and does a stunning job, as always. It’s a very melodic, fun yet fairly relaxed track, which moves at a nice pace, without going full throttle. It has some epic moments towards the end, alternating between some awesome death growls from Metatrone vocalist Davide Bruno, as well as some epic choral and operatic vocals. Next is one of the most explosive tracks on the album, “Seven Seas, Seven Winds”. It’s a very eventful track, with many epic moments and it goes through many different phases, packing a ton of ideas into just over 5 minutes. It has speedy sections, some slower sections, some epic theatrical operatic vocals, some choirs, powerful lead vocals, and some intense sections where it moves towards the black metal territory, complete with some awesome blackened rasps from A Hill to Die Upon vocalist Adam Cook. It’s an intense track, with a lot going on, and it’s definitely one of the best here.
Moving towards the end, “Ethereal Voices from the Forest” is a very beautiful interlude track, mostly featuring some atmospheric keyboards and symphonic arrangements, as well as some hauntingly beautiful choral chants in the background. It’s a very nice track and sets the mood nicely for “The World Unknown”, which starts off with the same haunting choral vocals for a bit, before moving back into epic symphonic power metal territory. It’s another amazing track, with some epic symphonic arrangements, as well as some slight prog leaning, especially in the guitar work, and the overall pacing, which alternates nicely between mid-paced verses and a fairly mid-paced chorus, with the occasional speedier section. The highlight of the track is the use of operatic vocals, especially near the end, where an amazing male vocalist joins in, and does an absolutely incredible job, along with the usual female operatic vocals and choirs. Closing out the album is “Hidden Conspiracy”, the longest and most progressive track on the album. It alternates between speedy and slower passages, as well as having some softer, more symphonic passages, and some pretty intense, more guitar-driven sections. There’s more of the nice clean male vocals, as well as the typically amazing lead vocals and some more growls from Davide Bruno, who does an excellent job once again. While a lot is going on, the song still has an amazing chorus, and it’s a very epic, very intense track, with a ton of memorable moments.
Sometimes, amazing albums seem to come completely out of nowhere, which is exactly what has happened with Land of Eternal Dreams. Just a few short weeks ago, I had never even heard of Astralium, and now they have proven themselves to be yet another in a long line of excellent Italian metal bands who have managed to completely blow me away! Fans of epic symphonic power metal along the lines of early Nightwish and some Epica tracks, are highly recommended to give this album a listen, and anyone interested in symphonic power metal, in general, should give this a shot, as its easily the best of its kind I’ve heard so far in 2019, and it’s an absolutely incredible debut, overall! Hopefully, Astralium can get the success they deserve, as judging by this first release, they have the potential to be something pretty special!
Written by: Travis Green
My Global Mind – Staff Writer
Travis Green is a Canadian based writer for My Global Mind, with a particular passion for power metal, as well as an interest metal in all its forms