Neverworld’s End by Xandria (Napalm Records)
It’s been a few years since we’ve heard from the likes of the mighty Xandria, and the band now returns in a grand and glorious way with an album destined to become a symphonic metal classic. Now on the Napalm Records roster of talent, Xandria is sure to enchant fans of such noted entities as Nightwish and Epica.
Neverworld’s End is Xandria’s fifth full-length album to date, and the first to features the wondrous operatic vocal talents of Manuela Kraller. Twelve songs in all are featured, absolutely epic in scope, performed with imagination and passion by all parties involved.
The masterwork commences with the stunning A Prophecy Of Worlds To Fall, a sweeping and dramatic magnum opus that is exhilarating to behold. Ms. Kraller vividly demonstrates a supreme vocal talent on par with the great ex-Nightwish vocalist Tarja Turunen. A grand slam beginning that will instantly bewitch the listener.
Valentine is up next, majestic with its epic metal soundscapes and impassioned vocals. Forevermore is the definitive power ballad, which packs an emotional charge that is nothing short of devastating. The aptly titled Euphoria is sure to provoke collective fists of triumph waving high and proud in the air within a live setting.
Blood On My Hands is dark and brooding storytelling at its finest followed by the engrossing Soulcrusher. The Dream Is Still Alive is evocative and inspiring, with beautifully lush vocals and wistful melodies. Then the pedal is set the metal with The Lost Elysion. A touch of folk music is featured within the dynamic Call Of The Wind and the solemn A Thousand Letters.
Cursed has a memorable refrain that will make the listener want to stand up and salute. Closing out Neverworld’s End is the nine-plus minute grand finale entitled The Nomad’s Crown, a shimmering composition that is a breathtakingly sonic extravaganza.
Neverworld’s End is an auditory odyssey destined to place Xandria on the metal map for the ages to come. The musicianship is thoroughly first rate, featuring the superb talents of Philip Restemeier on guitars, Marco Heubaum on guitars, Nils Middelhauve on bass, Gerit Lamm on drums, and the aforementioned Manuela Kraller on vocals. An unforgettable symphonic journey that music aficionados will want to relive time and again. Expect this one to ignite Top Ten Lists the world over when 2012 spins to its dizzying conclusion.
(Review by Kenneth Morton)
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