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Black Symphony - Tears of Blood CD (album) cover


Black Symphony


Progressive Metal

2.89 | 10 ratings

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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.

lukretio | 2/5 |


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