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Black Symphony

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3 stars Black Symphony is prog/power metal band from USA. They have some years behind in this field, but they are almost unknown to everybody intrested in this kind of music. The music they play is more towards power metal but with a good doze of prog elements. Tears of blood id their second album from 2001 and is step forward over the first, bith musicaly and lyricaly. While the first album gone unnoticed by listners , the second album was an improvement even in sales category. Not a well known band Black Symphony manage to create not necessary something special, but most of the time pleasent with nice harmonies and well balanced pieces. The first thing that struk me when i've listned first time the album and this band specially is the voice of Ric Plamondon, great voice, very powerfull, fits excellent to this kind of music. He can cover a wide area of vocal parts, from mellow to rough moments, every time he did an excellent job. Non the les the rest of the musicians are good , specially the bass player Rev Jones, who has some intristing chops and well done harmonies. The main man of the band the guitarist Rick Plester has a very intristing aproach to the guitar, from smooth to more rougher sound typical to power metal riffs, he manage to creat something solid and worth investigate if you are fan of this music. Pieces are well balanced, without to many in front and the rest just for filling, Black Symphony relased an album that both is instrising and usual in same time. The music is not special, but is well written and has shining moments like It Remains a Mystery, Death and Forgive Me , the rest are ok, not bad at all but not something special either. If you want to discover some underrated bands from this zone, try this americans, you will not be deseppointed, good music but non essential, at least for me. Some spins worth. 3 stars for Tears of blood, good album but nothing more.
Report this review (#205842)
Posted Monday, March 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
Heavy Prog Team
3 stars 3 years after their somewhat promising debut, BLACK SYMPHONY return with Tears of Blood. The main man, Rick Plester has changed almost the entire band, with only the bassist Rev Jones remaining. Ric Plamondon has replaced Mike Pierce on vocals but the approach in singing has not changed dramatically.

BLACK SYMPHONY continue on similar patterns as in their debut, playing a hard-edge, aggressive at times, guitar-oriented American prog metal. Alternative rock/metal elements are still playing an important part in the band's sound, but the heavily Alice in Chains-influenced alternative prog metal has shifted towards more straight metal forms, with less melodic moments. The latter mainly depends on the less characteristic - than his predecessor - vocal performance of Plamondon. Another change appears in the somewhat reduced use of the keyboards, which only act as a background supporting instrument rather than taking the lead.

There are still some great moments that create this characteristic melodic-alternative sound for BLACK SYMPHONY and these can be found in I am Hate, Death, Into the Dark and Tears of Blood pt.2. Black Symphony pt.2 aims to duplicate the title track from the debut, but lacks the dynamic lines to support it. Direct influences from bands like Faith No More are obvious in tracks like Take me Down, proving the continuation from the band's debut. However, at the same time it is clearly seen that, although the album is well-structured with some good ideas and punchy heavy riffs, there is no real progression in terms of sound. The result very much resembles the debut and there are minor - if any - sound or approach changes.

Conclusion: Tears of Blood is a good ''alternative'' prog metal album but does not differ to the self-titled debut, which probably has slightly more original moments and should be the first reference point. Not essential, but may prove an interesting listen for fans of prog metal and alternative rock/metal (Faith No More, Alice in Chains).

Report this review (#277690)
Posted Monday, April 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Black Symphony are a US-based prog/power metal band that has so far released four full-length albums between 1998 and 2007. Tears of Blood is their second release and is often considered one of the high points of their discography.

The music can be described as a mix between power/thrash metal and alternative metal, with a handful of progressive elements surfacing here and there in some compositions. Bands like Savatage, Iced Earth, Queensryche, Nevermore, Faith No More and Alice in Chains come to mind as one listens to Tears of Blood, showing the breadth of influences Black Symphony channelled through the 12 songs of the record. All influences are interpreted with personality and the music is played with rawness and immediacy, making this a rather direct release with a distinctive "live" feel to it.

This has both pros and cons. The songs have a good first impact on the listener. The guitar riffs, which constitute the backbone of each song, are muscular and punchy. The rest of the band tags along, putting in tight performances, especially the rhythm section. The keyboards are used sparingly, more as an embellishment to beef up the sound than as lead instrument. Ric Plamondon's vocal histrionics are very engaging and in a few places invite natural singalongs. The arrangements are tight and straightforward and the songwriting is never too complex, favouring verse-chorus repetition over intricacy, even in the lengthier pieces. While all this contributes to making Tears of Blood a most direct and accessible release, it also reduces its repeat-listening value and makes the whole album, at 55 minutes of length, a bit of a dredge to get through. In fact, despite a few moments of brilliance and some interesting acoustic arrangements, the music is all a bit too samey and unimaginative to retain this listener's active attention through the album's duration and, in all honesty, the end came as a small mercy to me as I almost completely lost interest after the first two-thirds of the record.

Qualitatively, the album reaches its peak in the middle. Songs like "Death", "Burned" and "Tears of Blood pt 2" feature excellent vocal melodies and slightly more sophisticated arrangements (with the use of acoustic guitars and choral parts) that elevate them over the rest. "Death" also features a nice, short melodic guitar solo and a nice instrumental breakout. Occasionally, these are present in other songs as well, but they are usually not particularly impressive from a melodic standpoint.

Overall, the album was a bit of a disappointment for me. While I appreciated the band's attempt to merge diverse influences from different metal genres, I missed nuance and sophistication in the arrangements and songwriting and thought the record contains too many dull parts to elevate it beyond a "fan/collectors only" rating. The version I own also contains a second disc with four bonus tracks that are cover versions of songs by The Who ("Behind Blue Eyes"), Deep Purple ("Smoke on the Water"), Black Sabbath ("Zero the Hero") and Queensryche ("Deliverance"). These are generally not very impressive, and the Queensryche's cover is the only one I actually enjoyed.

Report this review (#2582455)
Posted Saturday, July 31, 2021 | Review Permalink

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