Coming from Edmonton Canada, Samandriel is a female-fronted five member melodic heavy metal band formed in 2008 by guitarist Oskar Jankovic and bassist Ryan Hopper. Awakening is their self-produced debut work. Comparisons to other female-fronted metal bands are appropriated here, so think Nightwish, Epica, After Forever, and the like. Yet, Samandriel counts a broad spectrum of metal genres as their influences including Blind Guardian, Kamelot, Iron Maiden, Fates Warning, and native comrades Rush. Although combining Nightwish with Blind Guardian might get closer to the sonic texture on Awakening.
If you went by the first two tracks alone, without a second listen, you would be tempted to dismiss Awakening as rudimentary and typical female symphonic melodic metal. Holy Load and Trial by Terror are hardly band pieces just exactly what you would expect from this particular genre. A second spin is suggested. But things get much more interesting with Initial Reality and better from here to the end. The compositions are much more dynamic and well rounded, with more significant performances from all members, and not just vocalist Doneka Reid. The Mighty Seabeast and Demise of the Icewitch both steer towards the melodic power and progressive metal side, providing a rich listening experience. The entire work is punctuated by a crisp and vibrant production, uncommon for a self-produced effort.
If there are any great flaws here it comes first in that aforementioned predictability inherent in the female-fronted metal genre. But Samandriel should have the talent to overcome this in the future. The second negative is really a nuisance. On several songs, Samandriel integrates male dirty vocals. Whether they are for accent or commercial viability, they are a real distraction. Most times it sounds like some idiot is vomiting in the background while Ms. Reid is singing. It may be currently clever in today's modern metal climate, but Samandriel's fine songs don't need it. It also begs the question: does Samandriel really want to be a symphonic black metal band?
Despite these reservations, Samandriel's first work Awakening is a solid, entertaining, and impressive debut for a young band opting for the flooded field of female-fronted melodic heavy metal. Recommended.
Samandriel's first work Awakening is a solid, entertaining, and impressive debut for a young band opting for the flooded field of female-fronted melodic heavy metal.