Once more we come to another female-fronted metal band. Spirited Away, their third album, marks the return of France's Asylum Pyre. As I said of the previous album, you can't necessarily pigeon-hole the band into the common female metal genre.
One, Chaos Heidi is exactly an operatic soprano. She's more the metal singer, sometimes even a little screamo. Two, Asylum Pyre doesn't venture to deeply into the whole symphonic motif so common in the field. It's not that orchestration is not there, it's merely not the focal point. Alternatively, with this album, the band drops in quite a bit of electronic sounds. You know, those weird synths, midis, and such which are best left to industrial and rave dance bands. Basically, I could do without any of it. The sounds remind me of those black flies and gnats that buzz around your ears on a hot August night.
But largely, the Asylum Pyre sound is driven by an abundance of Johann Cadot's guitar riffs and leads, supported by a rhythm section that measures pace and brings groove. The same can offer some surprises as well like the bass and drum breakdowns in the latter third of both Spirited Away and The Silence Of Dreams. In the latter, the feeling and sound is one of rock-jazz fusion. Frankly, I think that brief, maybe one minute, segue was my favorite part of this album. (Which is somewhat of a telling, and sad, commentary.)
There also seems to be a lot of talking in the albums. Spoken word stuff, here and there. Possibly it's for some narration or accent. The White Room seems to have the lion share, but it's redeemed by a kick ass guitar solo. Again, like the electronica, the speaking parts only add weirdness to the music. Then there's the small, yet still annoying, use of death vocals in a few songs like At My Door and Soulburst . The worst offender is Soulburst, where the dirty vocals are matched with heaviness and Heidi's apparent attempt at dirty vocals as well.
Having said these things, and with some pause at this point, now that I've listened to Spirited Away twice, I'm not entirely sure I liked any of it. Except for that aforementioned moment within The Silence Of Dreams. Instants In Time is kind of catchy. And there's some terrific guitar solos. That's not to say it's a 'bad' album as fans will probably feel differently. Me? I probably won't bother with it again.
For Spirited Away, Asylum Pyre advances some new tactics: adding some spoken word parts, dropping in large bits of electronica, and some smaller doses of death vocals. It all adds up to something I probably won't listen to again.
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