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Akribi: Black Morning Sun

Not another female fronted Metal act I hear you cry! Well in the case of Akribi yes! The warning bells sound right from the moment that Akribi make it apparent that they intend to "blatantly defy the worn-out gothic/operatic formula", which actually translates into "man are we going to make every effort to sound individual". What that results in is an album that doesn't know if it trying to be the new Tarja era Nightwish album, or the first female fronted Dream Theater disc. Before deciding to actually be both - and neither. What does save Black Morning Sunrise, which to be fair is the debut effort from this sextet, from complete oblivion is that the general standard of musicianship on display is at worst impressive and at best jaw dropping. This ensures that the Prog-Metalheads of you out there will find much to latch onto, but (you knew there was a but), that doesn't mean that everything in sight will garner approval. Take for example "Blue Clay", the riff cries Gothic Metal, the time signature stammers into Progressive Metal, but the jazz-piano breakout oozes Fusion. All the disparate parts are executed well, but fused together they just lack any real focus, feeling instead bolted onto each other.

Then add to this unusual mix the vocals of Jessica Ahman. Taken in isolation she is an extremely talented and engaging singer. However when her voice is forced to tussle with the bristling riffs and pummelling drums, she comes across as a little lost and lacking in gravitas. "Carry The Rain" finds her desperately avoiding the high register operatic vocals, but the deep tones sounds forced. Something highlighted when she changes pitch as the songs grows. The more stripped back, piano and vocal exchange of "Angel Kiss" finds Jessica in much safer surroundings, with the less frantic approach giving her voice the room to be much more relaxed and natural. However as a consequence, the song struggles to feel like it really belongs on this album at all. Something that also applies to the almost vocal recital that "Plains Of Nevermore" becomes, although the final minute or so where atmospheric keyboards are added is a distinct improvement.

It isn't all bad news though, with "Where The Water Meets The Sky" finding Akribi succeeding in their attempt to offer up something new and interesting. The growling riff reeks of Doom, whereas the wobbly keyboards add a welcome air of Opeth. However it is when Akribi give in to their more Gothic side, as they do on the sprawling nine minutes of "The Sum Of It All" that they finally appear to really hit their stride. That's not to say that the song doesn't throw in an angular guitar solo, some grand piano and ever changing time signatures, but the longer duration and the lengthy vocal-less sections give the themes the time to feel more natural. Jessica however, even with some well crafted vocal layers and arranging still sounds more remote than integral to the whole ethos of the song, something carried across into the final track "Black Morning Sun", where once again the clever keyboard work goes some to way to salvaging things.

There are few things more frustrating than listening to a talented band try too hard. Akribi are trying too hard.

Track Listing
1. Puppies Of War
2. Where The Water Meets The Sky
3. Surface
4. Angel Kiss
5. Blue Clay
6. Carry The Rain
7. Wither And Die
8. The Plains Of Nevermore
9. The Sum Of It All
10. Black Morning Sun

Added: April 14th 2012
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Akribi MySpace
Hits: 2433
Language: english

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