• 六翼天使 / Seraphim -  平等精靈 / The Equal Spirit (2002)

    One year after the very promising and energizing progressive/symphonic power metal debut 不死魂 / The Soul That Never Dies, the female fronted Taiwanese five piece comes around with a more than convincing successor. The new record, 平等精靈 / The Equal Spirit, was once again released in two versions, with Chinese or English lyrics, and clocks at over seventy-two minutes for twelve stunning tracks this time.

    This album offers many trademarks established on the first record, and can be seen as logical step on the evolutionary ladder. The songwriting is similarly again diverse, and goes from beautiful ballads in the key of bands such as Xandria (as can be heard in “Vanishing Destruction”), to faster and modern stuff like “My Heart Is Dying” (which reminds me of a mixture of Edenbridge with Avenged Sevenfold – years before these bands even became known). The band convinces with a lot of progressive ideas and almost cinematic atmospheres. The musicianship shows an improvement from the already very well played debut album. The clean male vocals are sadly gone, but the mixture of more prominent harsh male vocals with the angelic performance of front woman Pay Lee sounds more balanced on this release than before. Tracks like “The Pride Of Twilight” and the outstanding “Last Memory” offer everything fans liked about the debut record: cinematic and epic atmospheres, fast riffs alternating with slower and darker heavy metal riffs, slightly progressive breaks, European power metal inspired guitar melodies, and last but not least, grounded and powerful female vocals that meet a few well employed male black metal vocals. Imagine the style of the debut record with an improvement in nearly all aspects.

    There are also a few new elements as well. The sound and production have improved, and sound crystal clear. Many tracks sound more accessible and modern to me on the whole. The song structures are more coherent, and a few songs definitely focus solely on the powerful female vocals. Tracks like “Think This World” are not among my personal favorites, but their more commercialized approach, reminding me of Nightwish, should please a large crowd.

    Ultimately, the band put some of the strongest songs of their entire career on this record that manage to stand out on a release that contains no filler material. The dramatic and highly diversified “Song Of Death” is such a track. Slight folk influences meet dry and sometimes almost groove metal-oriented riffs, while harmonious power metal guitar solos confront an overall rather dark atmosphere, and bleak male vocals contrast angelic female chants. The band unites all its strengths and mixes them more efficiently than ever before. Add to this a few surprises in the form of the intense final minute that dials back the speed and offers a slow and atmospheric instrumental closure where one can even hear a baby crying towards the end, and you have one impressive song. I think that this original conclusion adds an intriguingly emotional and human aspect to an otherwise quite pitiless track.

    Another outstanding track on here works completely differently, and underlines the open minded diversity of this band. “Song Of Farewell” is enchanting, slow, and surprisingly soft tune that impresses with outstanding vocal performances, neoclassical guitar solos, chilling acoustic guitar parts, and a dominant keyboard that adds an epic touch to the song. Classic instruments in form of flute and string passages add a cinematic feeling as well, culminating in a truly sweet lullaby.

    In the end, this record is, in my humble opinion, not only the best Seraphim record to date, but even one of the best female-fronted metal records of all time. This diversified, emotional, and technically outstanding release should definitely receive greater attention, and certainly has earned a place upon my list of personal favorites. If you want to get blown away by some honest, spiritual, and quality work, spread the name of this record and try it out without any hesitation.

    Originally written for Black Wind Metal

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