Monday, October 28, 2013

Sorronia - Words Of Silence (2013)

From the ashes of Thristana rises the phoenix now known as Sorronia. The "Devil's Destiny" first introduced us to the many talents of István Biró and Anna Kiraly, a duo that had come together with grandiose visions and sounds in their collected minds. But that band, or at least the name, was not meant to be. Their shortcomings were in manufacturing the right lineup to fit their dream, something a wave of session musicians simply couldn't do. But it would seem that those holes have now been filled, as the band returns with a familiar sound, but a new moniker, and a newly signed deal with Bakerteam Records. The real surprise isn't that Kiraly and Biró have made it this far, but how qucikly they've been there and back again. With only a year separating their past from their future, Sorronia looks to pick up where its ancestor left off. And while "Words of Silence" isn't the masterpiece these two dreamed of, they are well on their way.

The intro track, which falls just short of a minute long, is a reminder that keyboardist István Biró is a force to be reckoned with. His composition here is rich and inspired, which sets the table aptly for "Fallen Angel" to begin. Having refined so much of their sound from their previous release, the mix is crisp and clean, with vocalist Anna Kiraly's voice laying so delicately on top of a tower of instrumental backing. But while the guitars, bass and drums fit the bill perfectly, it is the keyboards that tie the entire ensemble together. Through the use of a full array of horns and strings, Biró changes the entire landscape of the track, adding a quality that could best be described as majestic. That doesn't apply to all parts equally, however, as the spoken male interjections seem out of place in the broad sweeping melodies. One of the major improvements seen here is the ability to balance symphonics, distortion, and Kiraly's tone, as they do on "Enemy Of Yourself." The full band is present, but it becomes a duet between voice and orchestra, one that works time and time again.

If one track were to be placed on a pedestal, "Serenade Of Memories" may fit the bill. It's identity crisis is the listener's gain, as it crosses the line to ballad, but stays bizarrely satisfying nonetheless. Contained within this instrumental is a great piece of cohesion between rhythm section and lead, as drummer Kristóf Vízi makes sure his "voice" is heard. By the time the vocal harmonies emerge in the latter stages, you would have to fight off the urge to sway. But that urge is met with sheer force as you transition from soft and brooding to some of the more driving riffs on the album. Each bridge section, overflowing with horns and percussion, pulls you in and surrounds you. Not to be outdone, the guitar tandem of László Ollós and László Szabó inject healthy doses of grit to the mix, including a solo section that lights the fuse for an explosive ending. Those combustible abilities are highlighted throughout the album, but never more clearly than on "Shattered." But that contrast, unfortunately, leaves the door open for a misstep as well. Kiraly sings with little backing early, and her voice isn't as powerful as it is with accompaniment. Simple aesthetic problems like this, though, are corrected quickly and easily, with the help of a keyboard and accompanying virtuoso.

If there is one concern to be raised, it comes as the album moves along. Having burned off so much raw energy early, tracks like "My Eternal Land" have a hard time matching up. They stand on their own two feet, mind you, but there are no surprises hidden around the corner. And while Sorronia do the job well, they trade in their winding melodies for a more straightforward approach. Soothing takes precedent over soaring, to a good result. But it is immediately clear that there are still powder kegs to be lit, as the opening march of "Leave It Behind" brings back some of the fire, albeit in a tempered manner. The length of the track, barely reaching three minutes, has a lot to do with that; there is no room to relax or pad out the track. It ratchets up the intensity, without sacrificing the beauty. Not coincidentally, you get perhaps the best vocal performance on the album. Following that same lead, the closing track, "This Is The End," leaves it all on the table. Bringing to mind some of the most prominent names in the symphonic metal scene, Sorronia finds their stride here in promising ways. Biró is the orchestrator, Kiraly the voice, and the rest of the band the facilitator.

We all heard something in that Thristana demo that we knew wouldn't fade away. There was more silver lining than cloud, thanks largely to the keyboard and vocal team of Biró and Kiraly, respectively. With stability, they found a winning formula; one that Sorronia can build upon, where Thristana could not. This lineup is secure and strong, not relying on a team of studio and session musicians to fill in the all important middle ground. The results speak for themselves. But now that the hardest part of the journey is over, where will this path lead Sorronia? There are still wrinkles to be ironed out, both in production and writing, that will allow this group to move on to the next stage of their career. A few carefully placed commas and delicately turned knobs could be all they need to reach that goal. But outside of a stumble here and there, "Words Of Silence" is the album we all hoped would come. How high they can soar remains to be seen.


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