Insatia: Phoenix Aflame
A female singer with folk sensibilities fronting a symphonic power metal band probably reads like an unusual arrangement on paper. I was excited when I first encountered this combination because I have reviewed many symphonic metal bands with decidedly mixed results. Far too many drown out the singer in a lush but loud landscape of symphonic orchestrations but Insatia has chosen a different path: They let the girl sing.
Zoe Federoff, the lead singer of Insatia is a prime example of a new wave of power metal that relies less on production tricks and synth atmospherics and gets down to the core of semi-complex compositions that bring back the singer as the main communicator. I'm not putting down any musical effort by any other groups, but I am saying that hybridization is an acoustic gamble that doesn't always pan out well. The listener is often left wondering why do I have a lyric sheet if the singer is hidden more than the meaning of the song.
Thankfully, it's not a question Insatia will need to answer with the opening tracks "Act of Mercy," "Memory of a Sapphire" and "Sacred" you listen to a powerful and practiced power metal outfit supporting the vocal prowess of a woman passionate about lyrical phrasing and projecting her version of rock and roll presence. Yes, they have arrived.
"We are the Grey" is a delicious departure in being a more radio friendly song starting with an Evanescence tinge of quiet feminine crescendo and King's X guitar homage into an explosive range of rhythm and righteous declaration. Radio friendly or not this is a unique arrangement utterly original and wholly dependent on the best elements that make a musical group a team of inspired players.
The title track "Phoenix Aflame" is a progressive/power metal number that lets loose the lead guitarist to follow his deepest desire to construct a solo that may be called a mini-masterpiece apart from the symphonics and pulsing percussion that move this marvel in a heightened pace of promise and acoustic perfection.
"Not My God" is the album's duet with an accomplished guest male singer. It's a strong effort with fine vocal stylings that become operatic and cinematic simultaneously. But I'm unsure what its true place belongs in a power metal outfit that bears no relationship to this singular but exceptional effort. With the next track "Captor and Captive" Insatia returns to form with a song that mashes pop/folk cadence with power metal background and turns another musical risk into a huge harmonic reward. "Velvet Road" is a true showcase of this singer's impressive range and Irish accent and my compliments to the guitarist who opens the track with a Zebra tone Randy Jackson would applaud. I close this album, and I wish I went on longer, with "Healer of Hatred" a full tilt symphonic power rocker created to remind anyone not noticing how deep this band is on talent and tenacity. The drumming on this track makes Motorhead sound like The Clash. And it's a lesson on how this band complete and individualized can borrow and still sound new. Can experiment and still sound like they are not lost. We need more of this honorable formula in our living rooms and in our lives. Bravo.
1 Land of the Living (Intro)
2 Act of Mercy
3 Memory of a Sapphire
5 We are the Grey
6 Phoenix Aflame
7 Not My God
8 Captor and Captive
9 Velvet Road
10 Healer of Hatred
Added: November 22nd 2017
Reviewer: Mark Antony Rossi
Related Link: Pitch Black Records
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