|Review: Coronatus - Fabula Magna|
Label: Massacre Records
Year released: 2009
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Review online: February 4, 2010
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Rated 3.8/5 (76%) (5 Votes)
Never one to pass up female-fronted Symphonic Metal, I jumped on the opportunity to review German band Coronatus' third album Fabula Magna. Here's my only stipulation; if you're going to do the operatic vocal thing, you had better be able to sing. Rest assured, both of Coronatus' singers, Carmen Lorch, who handles the operatic singing, and Lisa Lasch, who handles the "rock" singing, are capable singers. Even the guys in the band, who supply backup on the choruses as well as the occasional harsher singing, are pretty good.
Bands that go with female opera singers are cursed in that they will inevitably be compared to Finnish legends Nightwish, no matter what they do to try and forge their own identity. Coronatus does the Nightwish thing as well as anyone on Fabula Magna, but they have added some unique twists on the formula. These effectively raise the album above a mere, admittedly excellent, clone. The album starts firmly in the "typical" Symphonic vein with crunchy riffs, lots of supporting keys and larger-than-life choruses. The use of multiple languages gives Fabula Magna some extra punch. "Geisterkirche" is sung in the band's native German while "Tantalos" is in Latin. They then switch to English on "Flying By (Alone)." Before I get to the second half of Fabula Magna, I need to talk about Lorch's and Lasch's vocals. Lorch is clearly a very talented vocalist with a beautiful, emotional voice, but has more of an "opera singer singing rock," as opposed to a "rock singer with an operatic range" delivery. Occasionally, she doesn't mesh with the music supporting her. Not very often, mind you, but it does happen. Lasch, on the other hand, has a good rock voice, but lacks emotion, and comes across rather average at times. But get them to sing together and stand back! Lorch sweeps Lasch up on an emotional roller coaster while Lasch keeps the both of them grounded in the melody of the song so they don't fly away and spin the song in Prog.
Back to the album. The second half of Fabula Magna continues the Symphonic excellence of the first half, but the band adds some great folk elements to the songs. Flutes, bagpipes and strings can be heard on outstanding tracks like "Kristallklares Wasser" and "Est Carmen." These are also some of the better written songs on Fabula Magna. Everything comes together on the ballad "Blind." The chorus is a thing of beauty. The interplay between Lorch and Lasch is at its zenith, huge, beautiful and, dare I say, epic. The album ends with the very weird "Josy" and its story of unrequited love that is vaguely reminiscent of the Beatles' "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill." Like I said, weird.
Overall, Fabula Magna is an excellent example of a band playing the symphonic style pioneered by Nightwish, but not merely settling with copying that sound. No, they are trying to expand and improve upon it. With Fabula Magna they succeed more often than they fail. Recommended.
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