Xystus
Equilibrio

Like a treacherously silent volcano, Equilibrio, the last symphonic opus from Netherland’s Power Metal outfit Xystus, has quite unexpectedly erupted somewhere on my third attempt to look into its dark yet flaming musical depths. The point is that I didn’t quite get its multiple dignities during my initial familiarization tours, yet I felt there was some sort of hidden potency that would unfold itself with the lapse of time. No pains, no gains, and now I’m happy to announce that I can confidently canonize Equilibrio as one of the best operas that the genre has seen since the glorious times of Avantasia’s magnificent The Metal Opera, Part I and II.

Music-wise, this is in the first place a full-featured symphonic showpiece decorated with quite measurable and even elegant touches of metal. Sometimes the concentration on classical orchestrations is so intense that there emerges an illusion of being present at a sort of a grandiose ballet performance rather than listening to something that belongs in rock/metal scene. At times, there is a feel of being exposed to an amply furnished theatrical musical, mostly due to all sorts of vocal skirmishes shooting up as if from nowhere throughout the album. Actually, the vocal wealth presented is pretty impressive with Epica’s red-haired beauty Simone Simons being its major contributor. There are also four other male singers whose parts range from traditional Power Metal emotive singing to sporadic bursts of growls.

Compositionally, there is much more to digest than on your typical Symphonic Power Metal album. Instead of proceeding from the existing canons and using as much Power Metal blast as possible, the guys push off from the songwriting factor and follow the concept literally with every well-chosen note and chord. I think, a seasoned ear will hear lots of subgenres and interesting finds masterfully woven into the overall pageant and the numbers like “Last Breath”, “The Conflict” or “The Message” evidence it in full. Not only will you come across all sorts of brilliantly crafted vocal combats but you will also be totally engrossed in the magnificent interchange of relatively contrasting styles, like Power and Death, or Gothic and Folk, for example.

By and large, this is a fabulous piece of work, which will certainly appeal to those into the bands like Epica, After Forever, Kamelot and others of this ilk. I even feel guilty now about not paying enough attention to it back in 2008, as it would have definitely made my top five of the year.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Igor Stakh
January 22nd, 2009

Comments

  1. Commented by: Belgarath

    Damn, I’m definitely going to check that out. I’m in need of more power metal.


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