Switzerland's Lunatica isn't your typical female-fronted symphonic-metal band: No operatic pretenses here or gothic tendencies there. Rather, vocalist Andrea Dätwyler sounds more natural than many of her peers, and her dreamy yet grounded delivery lifts Lunatica to a higher realm.
Narration about the city of Atlantis and other "fables and dreams" comprises "The Search Goes On," the first track on Lunatica's second album, Fables & Dreams. And it's a bit jarring - especially in the beginning, when the narrator's voice jumps in after an orchestral crescendo. But by the time Lunatica launches into the first vocal track, "Avalon," you'll forget the silly spoken-word section and absorb the rich and layered music that the band plays with both competence and wise restraint. Dätwyler is at her strongest on the ballad "Fable of Dreams," although her voice carries the gorgeous melodies of all these songs with equal enthusiasm and charm. Keyboardist Alex Seiberl is free to explore multiple textures, moods and tempos, while guitarists Sandro D'Incau and André Leuenberger add the necessary muscle with plenty of power chords. After all, renowned producer Sascha Paeth (After Forever, Edguy, Rhapsody) wouldn't have it any other way.
Near the end of Fables & Dreams, the band gets caught up in generic swirls of symphonic metal that tend to sound too similar to other bands in this subgenre. But for most of the album, Lunatica lives up to its curious name, dancing on the edge somewhere between hope and madness.
1) The Search Goes On (4:15)
2) Avalon (3:42)
3) Elements (6:45)
4) Fable of Dreams (5:22)
5) Still Believe (6:11)
6) The Spell (4:48)
7) The Neverending Story (5:36)
8) Hymn (4:30)
9) Silent Scream (2004) (5:23)
10) A Little Moment of Desperation (4:58)