In 2004, Demark's latest heir to the symphonic metal throne was formed. The brainchild of vocalist Tanya Bell and guitarist Morten Harboe, Akoma is a band that is the sum of their many influences. Soothing, seething, and emotional, their music isn't just a basic, female fronted approach, but a more in depth and complex one. On their new EP, "The Other Side," they reach out to the global metal community, offering delicate keys, ravishing guitars and a voice that could move mountains.
From the onset of "Bittersweet Memories," there is a decidedly folk inspired tone to the music, mainly in the keyboards. As they build up, adding a pounding drum beat and bass line, the whimsical sounds draw you in. Vocalist Tanya Bell, whose style is something akin to Tarja meets Sharon den Adel, commands the tracks, soaring above the mix with an edge. The strength of the song lies in the instrumental balance, with each piece coming together in a perfect symmetry. While each may have an aura of simplicity, the depth of sound seems far richer. It becomes the basis for Bell to tell her story, in a gentle, but powerful way. The less restrained opening to "Your Sacrifice" sees an increase in aggression from all sides, taking the distorted guitars for a chugging ride. Despite the heavenly vocal tone being set, the backing instrumental is a lesson in contrast. The guitars chug forward, while the drums fill every waiting gap with a fill, roll, or double kick. The keyboards, airy and ethereal, tie it all together in a neat bow. Bell shows her talents time and again, whether as a vocal solo, over just piano, or over the assembled mix.
An emotionally drenched song, "My Love" has elements that could fit right in to a modern opera, with Bell's voice tickling your inner ear with grace and beauty. Single piano keys and light synths combine, if only as a vessel for her soothing words. As the drum beat rumbles in, welcoming the full band, the picture is complete. Bell croons ahead, leaving nothing behind, a single note taking you to the end. In that same stratosphere, "Without You" is equally heavy, in the weight of the lyrics alone. Once again, the distortion returns, with guitars echoing throughout the track. A constant thud of drums remains, before erupting into a full on battery of beats and crashes. The more bruising side emerges, with a collision of chords and kicks. Even in these more aggressive moments, nothing is out of place, nothing is overlooked. Every note is perfectly timed, powerfully blended together in a symphony of chaos.
A reworked version of "Guardian Angel," which appeared on the original promo EP "Angels Of Revenge," falls into place. Clean guitar tones accompany Bell's voice, this time in a far more accessible way than other parts of the album. Her vocals seem to be utterly flawless, on their own or part of the mix, with every breath, every word flowing from her lips with perfect pitch and accent. Songs like this are the perfect example, with no distortion or heavy guitars to hide imperfections. A song that spans over three minutes, yet it seems to end as quickly as it began. The finale, "Immortal Love," is, by far, the strongest track on the EP, with every tenet of the symphonic metal genre coming into play throughout five minutes of pure goodness. From the devastating stamping of drums, to the soaring, operatic vocals, and everything in between, Akoma hit all the right spots. The song is as powerful as the title conveys, giving you something to bang your head to, while also finding yourself overtaken by the beauty of it all. The vocal portion of the breakdown is enchanting, raising your eyebrows as bell hits the highest highs with accuracy and grace.
The fact of the matter is, this is a can't fail sort of endeavor. Akoma embody all the right things, from a angelic frontwoman, to a talented band dynamic. These aren't just six songs that were thrown together hoping to make a quick buck. Woven into each piece is an emotional tagline, one that represents everything the band has seen, heard, and accomplished over the course of their nearly eight year career. There is a frankness, an honesty to the music as well as the lyrics, one that makes it so easy to let yourself go while listening. Call it what you will, but "The Other Side" sounds like a great place to live.
Official Site - http://www.akoma.dk/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/akomamusic