Harmony
Chapter II: Aftermath

With as weak a name as Harmony, it might be easy to immediately dismiss these Christian Power Metallers but this could be a mistake as their music more than makes up for it the moment Chapter II: Aftermath (Chapter II, hereinafter) blasts out of your speakers. Although their lyrical subject matter is indeed also heavily weighted in the subjects of heaven and hell, I’ll instead focus on their music for this review.

It should be said that Harmony is a super group of sorts, for most of its line-up are also the skeleton staff for some other Swedish Power Metal acts, with 7 Days and Darkwater perhaps being most notable. Regretfully, the guys’ only two releases over nearly 8 years of existence haven’t enabled them to get much attention although they do deserve to be among fellow power metal champions like Nocturnal Rites, At Vance and Masterplan. Actually, these bands would also be the best reference point when describing Harmony’s more modest achievements. Truly, all of these bands are much about the same when it comes to composing a model song whose chief aim is to captivate the listener with its unfailing melodic charms and arrangement wonders. Stately vocal textures, audacious riff patterns, impetuous, somewhat agonized neo-classic solos from the guitars and the keyboards as well as the whole firework of emotions and feelings are thus guaranteed and carried into necessary effect on this new album.

I must confess that the band’s debut Dreaming Awake was so awesome back in 2003 it easily made my list as top Power Metal album of the year. Needless to say I therefore had much hope anchored in this new release. However, the times have changed, and so has the Power Metal scene. Every New Year just strangles us with the unbounded numbers of good albums. 2008 is definitely such a year for me and Chapter II easily bears the company of such well-accepted records as Farewell by Divinefire, The Great Unifier by Her Whisper, Fallen Sanctuary by Serenity and Immortal by Pyramaze, only yielding its position to In Shadows Lost From The Brave by Saint Deamon and Mirror Of Souls by fellow Christian metallers Theocracy. Yet the debut still has the clear edge on its successor in that it literally breathed of inspiration, fresh arrangements and excellent songwriting, all reminding of some Progressive Symphonic Hard Rock interpretation of the conventional Power Metal values. For that matter, Chapter II is more traditional and will hardly surprise with anything new.

However, most of the songs are still a pleasant enough experience for any power metal fan to ignore this release. Opener “Prevail”, along with a few other tracks features very tempting almost transparent piano splashes cropped all over with a view to providing an interesting contrast to the speedy guitar assaults. Another blast of energy is found in “Aftermath” impressing with its murky mood and all sorts of breaks and virtuosic solos. Actually, speed is a great key word to describe Chapter II, as the album has definitely some cards stacked in its favour since its blitzkrieg-like nature makes the listening process busy and go by in a flash. Of course, there is still an omnipresent power ballad allowing a brief respite and “Silently We Fade” is one of the most moving slow pieces I’ve heard this whole year as I just can’t help shedding a tear or two while listening to its fine silver strings, melancholic violins and Henrik Beth’s emotive singing. The only track that I don’t quite like is the generic Power Metal number “Inner Peace”. The chorus lines “Lord Of The Lords…” sung in a high-flown manner just seem a little too over the top, even for my tastes. Nonetheless, the gloomy break with the harpsichord-like keyboards at the end is tasty enough to at least partly redeem the piece.

Although there is nothing all that original to be found on this disc, it’s easily worth a buy if you’re a fan of the band or the genre as a whole. Sound-wise, everything is impeccable, as it just can’t be the other way with the Swedish quality mark attached. Besides, there are some well-known guests on the album, such as Daniel Heiman (ex. Lost Horizon, Heed) and Kristoffer Gildenlöw (ex. Pain of Salvation). And even though it is sometimes resonant of some other more celebrated bands, Chapter II has enough splendid songs to keep you more than interested.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Igor Stakh
November 17th, 2008

Comments

  1. Commented by: Jobby

    I got as far as ‘Christian Power Metal’.


  2. Commented by: Shumway

    How about a review of that Her Whisper album?
    Heard these guys for the first time ever about a month ago at a friends place. Interesting, to say the least.


  3. Commented by: ceno

    Her Whisper’s album is in my plans. I hope to do it till the end of the year.


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