With the plethora of European female-fronted metal bands swarming planet Earth, Italy's Holy Shire will not be out done. Other bands may have four or five members, but the have eight, and not just one female vocalist, but two, and a dedicated flutist. Add to this that several members have chosen quaint and clever stage monikers like theMaxx, Reverend Jack, Ale, and Aeon Flux and you have something different. Or do you?
Midgard is the band's debut album. Previous to this they recorded a demo and an EP, Pegasus. Several songs from both appear here. Midgard has reference to German, Norse, and English mythology, where it's likely better known as 'middle earth.' From this you can deduce the lyrical themes of the songs, those of fantasy literature and legend. The song Winter Is Coming is loosely based upon The Game of Thrones serial novels.
As to the music, more members does not appear to make Holy Shire's symphonic power metal any more bombastic. The Netherland's Epica could give this band a beat down with only five members. The Shire's approach to the genre takes another course. While the symphonic element is there, they put emphasis on more Celtic and folk elements. Often the flute brings this out, when you can hear it. Thankfully, the band was thoughtful enough to create moments in the arrangements where it could be heard and not crushed by, say, a wall of guitar riffage. But both keyboards and guitars contribute to the folk spirit as well. You'll here this motif in most every song here, most notably within Holy Shire, Midgard, Winter Is Coming, and their interpretation of the traditional English folk song Greensleeves, the bonus track. Both female vocalists lean more to the operatic side, but not always taking a more moderate approach. When the operatic side reveals itself it's not always that over-the-top, above the clouds, ear piercing style.
So Holy Shire's approach is different, especially against a band like Epica or Evenoire. But it's neither far from the boundaries of the female-fronted symphonic power metal genre, nor novel within it. Nevertheless, Holy Shire's creates some good songs that sound really good. Recommended to all fans of the genre.
With Midgard, Holy Shire brings more female-fronted symphonic power metal, with nuances of Celtic and folk elements to take the edge off of the normal bombastic nature of the genre.
Mat Sinner is both an icon and legend in the German, and the larger European, hard rock and heavy metal scene. Cranking out music since 1982, Sinner is an industrious and prolific musician and producer whether through his namesake band, the heavy metal heroes Primal ... [ Read More ]