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Angel: A Woman's Diary: Chapter 1

So you get CD from a pretty girl with a Penthouse spread in her resume. How good can it be? No, Really? So you spin the CD and the first bars of the first track sounds surprisingly promising.

Then you read the girl's bio and you realize she fronted Imperia and Trail Of Tears, and has an operatic voice in the mould of Nightwish's Tarja Turunen. Now it becomes more interesting - and as track 3 "Little Princess" rolls around, you're sold. There are some real vocal capabilities here and you're listening to a capable, serious-pop piece. By now you're concentrating on the solid instrumentation and the capable arrangements. And despite the expectations you have from her Trail Of Tears history, you quickly conclude that Helena Iren Michaelsen's new Angel project is not metal in any way at all. there's a gothic doominess to some of the tracks, but most of the songs are deeply emotional, the style is well varied, the songwriting is solid and there's a very capable group of musicians behind her. Helena uses her vocal range in interesting ways to express herself, ranging from folksy through operatic, from a soft high soprano to a ballsy deep delivery, and from angry diva to a girlishly feminine appeal.

So A Woman's Diary: Chapter 1 isn't metal, it isn't really progressive, it isn't really goth, and it isn't just pop. Yet it contains elements of of all those genres. It is a deeply personal body of work and the lyrics build the image of a woman's journal - the dark morbidity of "Funeral", the girlish optimism of "Little Girl", the frantic madness of "Darkness" and the operatic flourishes in "Little Princess" and "Flames Of Desire". It is truly a diary - in fact Michelsen wrote some of these songs at the age of twelve! Guitarist Jan Yrlund and Audun Gronnestad co-wrote some pieces, with Gronnestad also handling 'orchestrations', giving the record a diverse sound with classical orchestral arrangements. Besides the prominent piano and the rock lineup, there are a lot of orchestral, cello, flute and choral sounds - probably courtesy of ProTools, but very well done.

Angel is a collaboration of Michelsen and her Imperia bandmates, and is a true cosmopolitan 'European Union' effort - with Norwegian, Dutch and German influences, among others, and it's released on Greece's up and coming Black Lotus Records label. This CD clearly stands on its own merits, notwithstanding Michaelsen's good looks. The Penthouse credit (Greek publication, August issue) is just a bonus, and we hope Helena will use it to her advantage to generate some radio and TV exposure. It doesn't matter how she gets her music up there - it only matters that she does so. These songs deserve to be heard.

Track Listing:

  1. Fallen Angel (4:35)
  2. A Woman:s Diary (5:09)
  3. Little Princess (4:31)
  4. Butterfly (4:19)
  5. Lead You Through Fire (4:02)
  6. Mother (4:42)
  7. Glow In The Dark (4:41)
  8. Flames Of Desire (4:32)
  9. Darkness (2:46)
  10. Little Girl (5:53)
  11. Love Of My Life (5:37)
  12. Funeral (2:52)

Added: August 24th 2005
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Related Link: Helena Michelsen's Web Site
Hits: 4992
Language: english

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