Astralium releases an impressive debut symphonic metal album in “Land of Eternal Dreams” and instantly becomes a band you have to hear.
Coming from Italy, Astralium has released their debut album but by no means is it their first experience as the band has been around since 2014 when the band was playing shows under the moniker Black Roses. As most bands do, multiple personnel changes came into play and in 2017 the lineup solidified with the addition of a drummer in Salvo Grasso, who also can supply some great clean male vocals. With a solid lineup in place, work began on the debut album. The album itself, as symphonic metal albums often are, is a concept piece, with this one about dreams and the astral universe and the fantasy world that lives in all of us. As if sixty minutes of complex symphonic arrangements wasn’t enough of a challenge, the album also features multiple special guests including: Tommy Johansson (Sabaton, Majestica) providing some vocals on “Rising Waves of the Ocean”, vocalist Jo Lombardo (Ancestral, ex-Metatrone) and guitarist Andrea Martongelli (Arthemis) on “Whisper in the Silence”, Adam Cook (A Hill To Die Upon)adding growled vocals on “Seven Seas, Seven Winds” and some narration , and Davide Bruno (Metatrone, NefeshCore) adding growled vocals to “Hidden Conspiracy” and “A Dream’s Elegy.” While all of this may seem like overkill and lead to a muddled, disconnected sound, the guest musicians add unique elements to the songs they are one and the strength of the compositions allows it work seamlessly.
Obviously in this genre the first thing one tends to notice in the songs is the amazing soprano vocals of Roberta Pappalardo, and that is understandable given her impressive range and power. As impressive as they are in the full on symphonic metal songs, the softer, near interlude “Ethereal Voices from the Forest” really showcases her vocal abilities as she manages to produce a rich soundscape and listener experience without using any words. A simple and beautiful song sure to give chills and then it blends into a great guitar riff with an amazing rough tone to open “The World of Unknown”, which goes on later in the track to almost have a call and response male and female operatic section. These transitions from rock/metal to symphonic occur throughout the album and the strength of the arrangements keeps them from discord and makes for quite an impressive soundscape. Hearing the orchestral elements pick up the guitar riff is one of my favorite parts on this album. Complementing the music is the very clean production and mixing that allows the metal elements to shine through without overwhelming the orchestral pieces.
The album itself actually opens with a relatively short instrumental symphonic track “Remembrance” which serves as a great introduction to this journey. From bells chiming to the choir vocals to crashing cymbals, expectation build throughout the track and then “The Journey” literally explodes to life as the symphonic elements are joined by the metal guitars and rhythm section. This is when the first vocals from Roberta are heard and one can’t help but be drawn in. As anyone familiar with the genre might expect comparisons to band like Nightwish are inevitable, but there is so much here that keeps the songs from sounding like a copycat or knockoff of the bands that have come before.
Songs like “Rising Waves from the Ocean”, “Whisper in the Silence”, “Seven Seas, Seven Winds”, and “Hidden Conspiracy” bring the metal guitars from the beginning and definitely have a heavier overall tone and feel than the other tracks on the album, which start with more of a symphonic feel. Even though starting with some great guitar riffs, all of these songs have a strong symphonic element to the overall sound and the band never really strays from mixing the two and doing so very well. The use of the guest vocals and male vocals sometime in call response like manner fit the songs very well and as odd as it is to say, even the death metal growls from the likes of Adam Cook (A Hill to Die Upon) in “Seven Seas, Seven Winds” seem to merely complement Roberta’s clean, beautiful vocals in a song that also highlights the strength of the rhythm section of Guiseppe Pappalardo on bass and the strong, powerfully fast drumming of Salvo Grasso.
Astralium have set the bar incredibly high for symphonic metal bands when it comes to debut albums. Lush, complex arrangements, great musicianship, ethereal vocals, and plenty of metal guitar riffs, drums, and rhythms fill the tracks on “Land of Eternal Dreams” making it a simply great listening experience and an album that gets better with each listen.
Written by John Jackon
- The Journey
- Rising Waves from the Ocean
- My Life is My Eternity
- Whisper in the Silence
- Hope is Gone
- Breath of My Soul
- A Dream’s Elegy
- Seven Seas, Seven Winds
- Etherial Voices from the Forest
- The World of Unknown
- Hidden Conspiracy
Roberta Pappalardo (Robie) – Vocals & Backing Vocals
Salvo Grasso – Drums & Male Vocals
Giuseppe Pappalardo – Bass & Backing vocals
Emanuele Alessandro – Guitars
Release Date: August 23rd. 2019
Record Label: Rockshots Records
Video for ‘The Journey’
Lyric video for ‘Rising Waves From The Ocean’