Stream Of Passion, the band founded by the prolific composer Arjen Anthony Lucassen (Ayreon) and vocalist and violinist Marcela Bovio, returns after a 4 year hiatus, sans Lucassen, for their sophomore release, The Flame Within. Again, SOP offers a large platter of symphonic and melodic metal with slight dashes of prog and gothic elements and the emphasis upon Ms. Bovio's virtuoso voice. In other words, there's nothing new under the sun.
Largely, for The Flame Within you must digest an overly lengthy album (13 songs) that could have been shorter, and then discover which songs have the better or more novel arrangements and/or which songs flatter Bovio's vocal performance. Regarding the former question, the songs which are best are those that drift more towards the progressive and less towards the current run-of-the-mill female symphonic rock or metal bands. In this category only the following impressed: 'The Art Of Loss,' 'When You Hurt Me The Most,' 'Now Or Never,' 'Games We Play,' and 'Street Spirit.' For the latter question, Ms. Bovio is consistent and predictable throughout, but shines greater on the aforementioned 'When You Hurt Me Most,' and also 'Run Away,' 'Burn My Pain, and 'Let Me In.'
Generally, the music is predictable: usually a bombastic start leads to subtle moments, featuring the lead vocals, counterbalanced by heavier moments using strong guitar progressions; or the conversely, a smoother quiet start followed by the same progression. Now and then, there are moments of notable musical invention as when the piano supports 'Now Or Never,' the keyboard solo awakens 'A Part Of You,' or the guitar solo completes 'The Art Of Loss' or 'When You Hurt Me The Most.' Otherwise, The Flame Within is standard symphonic metal whose only raison d'etre is to display the female lead vocals particularly noticeable in a huge chunk from 'The Endless Night' through 'Street Spirit.' Again, there's nothing new under the sun.
Stream Of Passion, sans founder Arjen Anthony Lucassen (Ayreon), delivers a solid and soaring, but predictable, platter of standard melodic and symphonic metal whose only raison d'etre seems to be to display the female lead vocals. This is hardly new or novel. Yet, with the preponderance of like bands out there, Stream Of Passion is one of the few that is more compelling.
Stream Of Passion, sans founder Arjen Anthony Lucassen (Ayreon), delivers a solid and soaring, but predictable, platter of standard melodic and symphonic metal whose only raison d'etre seems to be to display the female lead vocals. This is hardly new. Yet, with the preponderance of like bands out there, Stream Of Passion is one of the few that is more compelling.
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