Friday, September 14, 2012

Thristana - Devil's Destiny (EP) (2012)

Formed a single year ago, Hungarian symphonic metal band Thristana are still in their infant stages. With a talented frontwoman at the helm, and a musical mastermind with hands on the keys, they have checked off two of the main items on their list of steps to success. But time waits for no man, and the two have enlisted a handful of session musicians to create and craft their debut EP. Unfortunately, without a full lineup to share the burden of writing, speed bumps are sure to arise. On "Devil's Destiny," you are treated to three tracks that have so much to focus on, and yet very little depth to enjoy.

Within the first few seconds of the title track, keyboardist István Biró lays down a thick dose of symphonics, layered with strings and woodwinds. The heavy chugging of the guitars breaks up the light with a dose of the dark. But the vocals, provided by the sultry Anna Király, float somewhere in between black and white. Her voice has all of the operatic tones you may have expected, but with an added touch of grace. There are a few stumbles, however, as a disjointed instrumental portion throws off the momentum. This leaves Király to pick up the pieces, something her voice is very capable of doing. With a little help from session guitarist László Maródi and a wildly successful, if not slightly out of place, solo, the track cruises to an end.

The much shorter "Devotion For Dreams" doesn't suffer from the same trip and fall moments, choosing to stay within a more basic format. Kiraly is allowed to shine through in all her glory, with a pulsing drum beat padding out the mix. There is certainly a focus on keyboard melodies here, sometimes taking precedent over the simplistic guitar riffs. The downside, of course, lies in the lack of deviation from the plan. The marching tempo of snares does little to accent the track, leaving the lion's share of the work to the golden pipes of Kiraly. The closing track, "Our Never Ending Story," falls into a similar  trap. With Biró pouring everything into a dazzling piano piece, backed by synthesizers, all that is left is for Kiraly to carry the bulk of the load. Without any guitar, bass, or drum work to form a solid foundation, you are left with something that sounds more like a four minute intro or interlude, without the big payoff you are waiting for.

It is impossible to overlook the talent that both Biró and Király have. But without the full array of weapons at their disposal, it would be a tall order to put out an album that mirrors that skill. Session musicians, while useful, aren't always the best solution. Instead, what Thristana have here is an introductory EP that might not best represent what they have in store for the world of metal music. There are highs and lows, like any effort, but what stands out most on "Devil's Destiny" is the heavy reliance on Király's angelic voice. She can carry the tune, carry the melody, but without any help, even she might not be able to shoulder the load for long.


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