From the tiny nation of Belgium comes one very large progressive metal band. Armed with a new lead singer for this their second release, Gwyllion is poised to crush the competition in the world of symphonic metal. Few bands are capable of just wowing me upon the first listen but this is a group that not only captures the essence of all that is metal, they do so in such an overwhelming way that you will be left breathless by the end of the disc.
It is clear that this band has some real musical background. There is no way that the sense of musicianship comes by accident. With a blend of the classical world and the land of metal, this is one of those musical moments that will completely enthrall the listener.
First off, let's start with lead singer Annelore Vantomme. If there is a weak spot with this band, this is not it! From gritty rocker vocals to soaring operatic arias, Annelore brings a magical voice that takes the band to heights that only a singer of this caliber can reach. She mesmerizes with a vocal style that oozes metal but also draws from so many different influences that her singing could become one of the irresistible forces in the music industry. She is that good.
Next you have a pair of guitarist that create such a bombastic and dynamic backdrop that for at least a little while you can get lost in a world of symphonic metal that takes you back to the days of maidens and castles while at the same time keeps a foot firmly planted in today's metal universe. Hats off to Martijn Debonnet and Steve Deleu, they deliver a robust and powerful musical treat to the metalheads ears!
Then you have the secret weapon of the band. Well, he is not really all that secret but keyboardist Joris Debonnet is to Gwyllion what Rick Wakeman is to Yes. There is a regal sense to the music of the band and it can be traced directly to this guy!
Lastly, you have a rhythm section that is amazing. Drummer Wouter Debonnet and bassist Thomas Halsberghe are a rock solid foundation to build this house of metal magic. Will all the variations that the band has to offer, these two do not let them get off track.
As a band it is tough to be able to broach the worlds that Gwyllion dare to enter. They manage to do with such ease that you will wonder why they are not a household name now. The music sounds as if they might have agonized over each and every single note laid down. It is as close to perfection as you will find. Just listen to any song on here such as "A Thousand Words" where the majestic keyboards start off but give way to the staccato guitar that suddenly soars off before returning to its steady rhythm and becoming the background to Annelore's terrific vocals. Or the dynamics of drummer Wouter who's cadence is what pulls it all together. Then the brilliant fills by keyboardist Joris are the calming influence amidst the storm. All together they provide a package than is so far superior to 99% of what is out there that the gap seems to increase with every listen to the disc. Sure you can hear influences of other bands such as Nightwish or Lunatica but this band puts a whole new spin on what those that have come before has done.
Each song brings its own form of dynamics to the overall package. The operatic vocals on "Roots of Reality" will take you by surprise the first time through the disc but will be something you look forward too with each play.
Album closer "Angelheart" is a stunning piece of music. A beautiful work with just piano and the voice of Annelore penetrating your senses, it is the perfect cool down after the workout that the rest of the album gives you.
My personal favorite, at the moment, is the song "Void". With a guitar intro that brings to mind the power of bands like Iron Maiden. This is a pure rocker that is also the one song where Martijn gets a chance to lend some lead vocals when he trades lines with Ann. It also has a most interesting keyboard interlude that although short is dynamite.
I could go on and on about this band but the simplest way to find out about them is to go and get this disc! It is a stunner and one that took me totally by surprise. At least you have been forewarned that this album is habit forming!!
1. In Silence Enclosed
5. Beyond Goodbye
6. The Night Awakes
8. A Thousand Words
9. Roots Of Reality