|Musical Style: Symphonic Metal||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Metal Survivor||Country Of Origin: Brazil|
|Year Released: 2015||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 11||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 53:08|
For classically trained soprano female vocals; symphonic orchestration, keyboards and choirs that back a more traditional metal set up of guitars, bass and drums; and atmospheric if not complex musical arrangements, then symphonic metal is often the most practical choice. Many consider the genre as tracing its origin to the mid-nineties and Swedish death metal band Therion, whose use of ‘live orchestration” and ‘classical compositional techniques’ came to fruition on its 1996 fifth album Theli. Others, however, regard the Believer track “Dies Irae” (off the 1991 release Sanity Obscure) as the forerunner to the scene with its creative merging of classical and metal music. Regardless, the archetype was ingrained either way that proved inspirational on the 1997 debut albums of pioneering symphonic metal bands Nightwish and Within Temptation respectively, Angel’s Fall First and Enter. The host of symphonic metal artists that followed upheld a similar musical leaning, with Epica, Delain, After Forever, Leaves’ Eyes, Edenbridge, Xandria and LEAH ranking among the better known and more successful.
Unfortunately, on the Christian side of the fence symphonic metal bands are the exception and not the norm. Most well known is Finland’s HB, whose English albums Frozen Inside (2008), The Jesus Metal Explosion (2010) and The Battle Of God (2011) have garnered it a certain amount of acclaim, although I find HB at its best on Finnish releases Piikki Lihassa (2008) and Pääkallonpaikka (2010). Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s Promise Land also rates highly and not just due to musical direction but also for eschewing the female fronted approach to many symphonic metal acts for a pair of lower-register male vocalists on its 2014 full length debut Harmony In Ruins. Whispers From Heaven showcases significant promise, but with only a lone single, “Into Eternity”, and Deliverance cover “Anymore” (from the Deliverance tribute CD Temporary Insanity) to its credit is only touching upon its potentially, particularly in light of talented front lady Amulyn Corzine. I would welcome a full-length album from the group!
Next band in question, Perpetual Legacy, takes us all the way to Brazil and early 2014 when founding members bassist Matheus Maia and vocalist Michelle Rodovalho, working together at the time in an extreme metal group, developed the co-vision to put together a symphonic metal project. The two proceeded to recruit guitarist Bruno Souza, keyboardist Rafael Lobo and drummer Gabriel Pedroso prior to starting work on the material that would encompass the Perpetual Legacy fall of 2015 Metal Survivor Records full-length debut A New Symphony For Him.
I cannot help but feel Perpetual Legacy succeeds laudably in capturing a sound that accurately reflects the influences of Epica, Nightwish and After Forever (as listed in the groups press material). All the needed ingredients are at hand: an equally mix of heaviness and melody in which the symphonic (in terms of the as noted orchestration, keyboards and choirs) and metal (referencing that traditional set up of guitars, bass and drums) converge. Lead vocals also meet expectation, with Michelle Rodovalho, despite not having the operatic presence of Tarja Turunen (who does?), bringing a classic soprano style that compares favorably to contemporaries Floor Jansen (Nightwish), Simone Simons (Epica), Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation), Charlotte Wessels (Delain), Leah McHenry (LEAH) and Johanna Aaltonen (HB).
“Looking For The Endless Light” does a good job highlighting her abilities, with rollicking double bass and classical keyboards leading the way as she refines the arresting verses (which really hit quite hard) and elegant refrain (understated with its alluring qualities) with her crystalline style. The gist is an even melding of the forthright and engaging which helps make this one of the albums more accessible (and unique) numbers.
Also set apart is “A New Symphony For Him”, a bouncing and mirthful medieval influenced number in which ethereal violin and acoustic guitar stand alongside periodic outbursts of acerbic double bass and steadfast rhythm guitars. Some of my favorite aspects to the albums title track are its pensive instrumental moments, as magnanimous keyboards trade off with fleet lead guitar. Perpetual Legacy puts its talents on full display here.
Also with an upbeat demeanor is “Kairos In Aeternum”, ranking with the albums heaviest in storming out of the gate with full on angst to a churning cauldron of undisguised as it gets guitars and brooding choir vocals. This one puts the metal in the symphonic metal in no uncertain terms. “I Looked Up High” starts to church organ but proves every bit the barnburner moving forward, with a furious double bass driven tempo and impassioned mentality that cannot help but remind of Divinefire. Bruno Sousa steps forward with albums best run of searing lead guitar.
Maintaining the up-tempo leanings but with a light progressiveness is “Our Pride”. Opening to a classical keyboard solo, the song bulrushes ahead only to temper for its enchanting verses but brusquely rebound upon procuring albums most exuberant refrain. Likewise, “Singing Forever” touches upon the progressive, with acapalla vocals at the start giving way to a tempest of authoritative riffs that impel things through moments that range from the grandiose and majestic to that bristling with authority. Things get creative instrumentally as a jazzy bass line sets a fusion-like tone.
Album has its mid-paced moments as well. “Inside Your Chest” hints of the Gothic with its darkly forlorn essence, brooding in terms of the deliberate tempo but elevated (even if slightly) in transitioning to the swirling choir vocals that help set the portent tone at hand. “A Beautiful Truth” also hints of the Gothic. Opening to piano before taking off to a resounding outburst of keyboards and guitars, the song slows for the gentle tinctures of its composed verses only to elevate for the incisive feel of its worshipful chorus. Rodovalho stands out with her emotional vocal performance as she sings, “He lives, Jesus Christ live, The Holy Lamb who’s saved us”.
Perpetual Legacy is not afraid to delve into ballad territory, with “Metonymy” standing out mostly in this capacity. The song slowly drifts to viola and piano from the start, calm but winsome with its airy qualities as Rodovalho again exhibits the full range to her moving voice over the lavish backdrop. Impetus picks up over the final minute to endearing lead guitar and pronounced rhythm guitar. “Blood Tears” upholds a semi ballad feel, as reflected in the classical keyboards that accent walls of melodic hard rock guitars and added understated medieval signatures. Instrumental interlude explores the delicate and translucent.
Production might not reflect the big budget proclivities to many of the groups noted contemporaries but holds its own with no vestiges of thinness or muddiness. Keyboards refreshingly stand out (I cannot say enough good things about Rafael Lobo’s performance) in joining an even balance of pronounced guitars (both lead and rhythm) and more than decided low end.
I also cannot complain of packaging with eye catching cover art that reeks of the symphonic and medieval tinctured mini booklet with lyrics and liner notes in an easy to read font. Lone complaint (and this is minor) is that credits are in the groups native Portuguese.
Lyrics leave little doubt as to the faith of the Perpetual Legacy members. A worshipful tone stands out on the albums title track -
I will sing a new song to m Savior and Lord
For His works are of incomparable splendor
A life entrusted to us
A whole world given to use
I will dance before God with gratitude
For He gives me the joy of salvation
I will never be ashamed
Of declaring my love to the King
- and “A Beautiful Truth”:
He lives, Jesus Christ lives
Has faced death and risen
He lives, Jesus Christ lives
The Holy Lamb who’s saved us
Prince of Peace, Sovereign Savior
Blood shed that redeemed us
“Metonym” builds upon this with its salvation message:
The enemies will fall
By the power of God
For there is only One name
That has the power to set you free
You need to follow the right way
And hear the voice of
Who guides you through the darkness
He is the only Lord
“Singing Forever” touches upon the eternal:
When my heart stopped and my eyes closed
And then in piece I’ll rest my soul
The angels will receive me
And I’ll be fine, singing forever
I hope to finally embrace Him
And give thanks once again
I’ll see Him smile to me
And I’ll be fine singing forever
It took several listens but A New Symphony For Him ultimately won me over as a strong contender within the symphonic metal field. The complex but accessible Perpetual Legacy songwriting reveals this, with cuts ranging from faster to slower to heavier and lighter while in the process also yielding nuances of power metal, the Gothic and even a smatter of progressiveness. Musicianship more than holds its own in light of the genres standards with talented performers throughout the Perpetual Legacy line up. Fans of symphonic metal are strongly encouraged to check out A New Symphony For Him.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Lost In Darkness” (1:00), “Looking For The Endless Light” (4:34), “Inside Your Secret Chest” (5:08), “A Beautiful Truth” (4:12), “A New Symphony For Him” (5:12), “Metonym” (5:58), “Karros In Afternoon” (4:09), “Our Pride” (5:47), “Singing Forever” (6:49), “Blood Tears” (4:31), “I Looked Up High” 95:35)
Michelle Rodovalho - Lead Vocals
Bruno Souza - Guitars
Rafael Lobo - Keyboards
Matheus Maia - Bass
Gabriel Pedroso - Drums