Harmony – “Theatre of Redemption”


harmony_tor_artworkIf you’re looking for some orchestral, melodic metal with soaring vocals, blistering guitars, and a heavy keyboard influence in the sound, look no further than Theatre of Redemption from Harmony.

The Borås, Swedish band Harmony was formed in 2000 by Markus Sigfridsson (guitars) and Tobias Enbert (drums), who added Henrik Båth on vocals and recorded a demo on 2001 that led to a deal with German label Massacre Records in 2002.  Their debut album Dreaming Awake was released in 2003 which also saw the band lineup completed with Andreas Passmark (Narnia) on keyboards and Magnus Holmberg on bass.  In 2008, Harmony released their second album, Chapter II: The Aftermath to great reviews and notably featured guest vocals by Daniel Heiman (ex-Lost Horizon, Heed).  Markus, Tobias, Magnus, and Henrik also played together in the band Darkwater and in 2010 Henrik and Magnus left Harmony for Darkwater, leaving Markus and Tobias to carry on.  Tobias has started the band Empire 21 and through contacts there picked up Raphael Dafras and added Empire 21 keyboard player John Svensson.  Finding a vocalist was a challenge and eventually they decided on Daniel Heiman who had previously contributed vocals to a Harmony track.  Theatre of Redemption  was recorded at various studios but mixing was handled by Henrik Udd and Fredrik Nordström at Studio Fredman (At the Gates, In Flames) and matered by Thomas ‘Plec” Johansson (Scar Symmetry, Watain).

The variety in approaches to melodic metal/hard rock become readily apparent when you are a reviewer and have received three albums in a row that fall within that genre.  In this situation I have reviewed Black Fate from Greece, Empire 21 from Sweden and now Harmony, also from Sweden.  Black Fate has a more raw, rougher edge to their overall tone and a definite dominance of guitar.  Empire 21, which shares Tobias Enbert and John Svensson with Harmony, has a more melodic, more fluid approach than Black Fate and leaned more toward the commercial radio-friendly hard rock sound.   Harmony, is a bit more complex in arrangements and approach.  At times, the songs are guitar-driven with some great melodic metal riffs, but whenever the vocals come in, either from Daniel alone or when supported by others, the vocals dominate… really dominate.  Then a song like “Son of the Morning” comes along and the Middle-Eastern influenced keyboards and bass take over and really play a more dominant role in the sound of the song.  The recurring theme for me though is the vocals, which are very strong but seem overly loud and dominant in the overall mix.  Within this genre, the guitars are typically the most striking part of the songs but with this Harmony album, it is the vocals.  Personally, I always lean toward the guitars and Markus Sigfridsson does not disappoint as the album is filled with great riffs and solos and no one would argue that, it’s just my personal preference would be to have the guitars more in the forefront.

This is a complex album with twists and turns throughout.  “What If” begins with some keyboard and vocals that bring to mind Freddie Mercury and Queen for a bit until the metal guitars join the song.   The soaring chorus adds yet another dimension to the song.  As with other songs on the album, there are some great guitar solo and keyboard solo moments sprinkled in as well.  On aspect that is impressive is the way in which the solos are incorporated within the songs.  Put very simply, they fit.  There’s restraint when appropriate for the song and abandon when the song calls for it.  Obviously, very mature songwriting and a good bit of effort and talent went into the arrangements.

The vocals have been spoken about before but this album really does serve as a showcase for the talents of Daniel Heiman.  In a song like “Theatre of Redemption,” he manages to go from go from a soft singing with shades of Sebastian Bach to some upper range, operatic moments reminiscent of Bruce Dickinson.  Some credit is no doubt also due to Ulrik Arturén for providing backing vocals.  While I’m not entirely clear on Ulrik’s contribution, many of the songs feature harmonized vocals that are really phenomenal and add even more to the already strong vocals on the album.

This is one of those albums where the more you listen, the more you discover.  A song like “Bloodbound” starts out somewhat slow and then picks up the tempo and to my enjoyment, incorporates rhythms that are straight out of older Rainbow or Yngwie’s Rising Force but used in a new way and arrangement.  The influence is definitely there but at first it’s subtle and might even be missed, even by this reviewer who is a huge Ritchie Blackmore fan.  To that end, the guitar solos would likely lean more toward Yngwie than Ritchie, but the influence of both rings in my ears.

Harmony have assembled an impressive soundscape on Theatre of Redemption.  From the complex arrangements, to the virtuosity in the guitars and keyboards, to the soaring vocals, the band manages to capture all of these elements and combine them in a seamless manner that provides quite a listening experience.

Rating: 8/10

Written by John Jackson

Track listing
01. The Window of My Soul
02. Inhale
03. Crown Me King
04. Son of the Morning
05. What If
06. Theatre of Redemption
07. Bloodbound
08. You Are
09. Hands of Time
10. In Search Of

Band members:
Daniel Heiman – Guest lead vocals
Markus Sigfridsson – Guitars, voices, additional keyboards and programming
Tobias Enbert – Drums
John Svensson – Keyboards
Raphael Dafras – Bass

“Dreaming Awake” [2003]
“End of My Road” (EP) [2008]
“Chapter II: Aftermath” [2008]
“The Window Of My Soul” (Single) 2014
“Theatre of Redemption” [2014]

Record Label: Ulterium Records, Nov. 2014

Weblinks: Facebook / Myspace

Buy the album here:
 First Paradox 
 Nordic Mission

Pre-Order / Ulterium Records Store

Lyric video ‘The Window of My Soul’

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