|Review: Xandria - Sacrificium|
Label: Napalm Records
Year released: 2014
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Review online: June 29, 2014
Reviewed by: MetalMike
OK, Tarja-era Nightwish fans; we've waited a long time for a band to step up and give us another Once or Wishmaster. With their sixth album, Sacrificium, Germany's Xandria have created something approaching (and perhaps surpassing?) those classics. New soprano Dianne van Giersbergen, who replaces Neverworld's End's Manuella Kraller, has an absolutely amazing voice. She has that elusive ability to combine her operatic delivery with the heavy music in a way that sounds completely natural. Some operatic singers just can't segue into a rock setting without sounding incredibly uncomfortable, but not van Giersbergen. She makes it sound effortless. Musically, Xandria have struck the mother lode of catchy riffs and memorable choruses. And the song I keep coming back to is the superlative "Stardust." Double-kick drums, lead-work up and down the fret board, fantasy-based lyrics, majestic backing choirs; does it get any better than this? The rest of Sacrificium is excellent and though no other song rivals "Stardust," it makes many of the Symphonic Metal albums released over the past couple of years pale in comparison. The album is quite varied, with Power Metal anthems ("Betrayer"), epic pieces (e.g. the 10-minute title track) and slower, contemplative songs featuring a bit of folk instrumentation ("The Undiscovered Land") so it never once gets repetitive.
If Sacrificium had maybe one or two more songs like "Stardust" it would be a de facto 5/5. Nonetheless, this one goes in my collection with the likes of Nightwish's Once, Edenbridge's Solitaire and Serenity's Death & Legacy. Symphonic Metal fans; make some room in the CD rack because you need Sacrificium.
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