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Ethereal Kingdoms – Hollow Mirror

Ethereal Kingdoms
Hollow Mirror
by John Paul Romero at 02 September 2019, 10:22 PM

For my first serving of Symphonic Metal this week, we have ETHEREAL KINGDOMS’ debut record “Hollow Mirror”. ETHEREAL KINGDOMS is a Symphonic metal quartet from Denmark who aims to share their “ghost stories” to the world via Mighty Music. Unlike most of the female-fronted Symphonic Metal acts out there where the female singer does the clean vocals and a male does the growls, ETHEREAL KINGDOMSSofia Schmidt does both parts – showcasing his bipolar singing ability.

Their type of music is no longer new to the ears, taking influences from NIGHTWISH and WITHIN TEMPTATION like most of the newly rising bands from the genre. But despite this trend that has been going on, ETHEREAL KINGDOMS is among those bands that actually do good to separate themselves from the others. They did that by employing big choirs in their songs and creating a perfect balance of darkness and brightness – with some gilded passages provided by the occasional synths. They also managed to make a very theatrical appeal in their sound – the kind of a dark but really aesthetic arrive of Sweeney Todd (with lots of distortion!) – and that will really translate to epic live performances given the right gear and props. “Ashes Within” for me is the perfect example if you really want to explain their identity. It has occasional blast beats, big orchestral arrangements, bipolar vocals, dark atmosphere layered with colorful melodies, and really horrifying spoken passages. In fact, I can also see some shades of ILLNATH in their horror lyrics.

The album also has a fair share of aggressiveness in “Endings” – which very nearly sounded like black metal. The atmosphere is both depressive and menacing –and the bipolar singing only made it much terrifying. This is the first time I felt this certain tickle in my chest by listening to a non-Black Metal song. The horror vibe is simply on top form, and I love how they closed the album with the same attack in “Apparition” – although that closing song is a bit confusing for me. At first I thought that there was an instrumental track next to it but it turns out that it is still the same song. There was a one-minute void in the track that transitions to its ultimate ending which is primarily a guitar solo and Sofia’s grim howls.

 Judging by how this Danish folks commenced their career with “Hollow Mirrors”, it is very easy to say that this band has a good chance of becoming a new force in the genre. I can see no problem if they elect to continue with their horror music style as long as they put more varieties in it. it would also help a lot if they had a keyboardist which can put that horror sound to a much higher level and create more contradictions to the layers of sound. Overall, I’d say it’s a very good release and ETHEREAL KINGDOMS is definitely on my “bands to watch out for” list.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Distance
2. Beginnings
3. Ashes Within
4. Heartchamber
5. Endings
6. Silent Dance
7. My Kantele
8. Embrace Me
9. Apparition
Lineup:
Sofia Schmidt - Vocals
Christian Rasmussen - Guitar
Jakob Holm - Bass
Jon Elmquist - Drums
Record Label: Mighty Music
     


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