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Excalion – Emotions Award winner

by Rachel Montgomery at 17 September 2019, 10:09 AM

Emotions” is EXCALION’s fourth studio album since forming in 2005. A symphonic medley of tricks and techniques, the album is great production-wise and variety-wise.

Trust” starts with a short buildup before rocketing into a symphonic intro. The vocals are wonderful: clear, operatic and captivating. The instrumental break is wonderful, starting with a slow melody then throwing in some rolling drums and increasingly thrashing guitars. It’s a promising start to the album.

Sunshine Path” starts with a symphonic hook that, unfortunately sounds a little too artificial for me. It’s still a solid intro with really nice verses and choruses. I don’t think it’s as strong as the last song; it’s more standard, and while it’s good, I’ve heard similar songs on a thousand other Symphonic Metal albums. I enjoyed the dueling harmonies between the guitars and the synthesizers in the solo, though.

Lost Control” has a thematic opening, building up pressure through the intro. The symphonics sound like a “Castlevania” game (not the first time I will hear this in the genre, nor will it be the last). I love how they ramp up the intensity in the middle of the verse rather than the chorus; it was an excellent thematic choice.

Solitude” is unique; it opens as a ballad rather than a standard Power Metal song, reaching anthemic power in the intro rather than uncontained thrash and speed. The verse slows, focusing on the singer; he stays in the lower register before the chorus swells and he goes into his higher register. It shows off his range well. Also, the variety in the music shows what they can do: synth harmonies, different styles of riffs, different registers, it’s a good showcase piece for what the band can do.

Nightmariner” features more techno in this song than the last one, and makes up for the previous, slower song with more speed and galloping riffs. The vocals are gravellier, showing a different side to the singer, and I love how they mix the gravelly vocals with soaring choruses. The guitar solo has some great sweeps in it, but mixes it with videogame-like symphonics, which sound fine in small doses – on the album, they’re fine as long as they’re only featured in one song.

The Golden Horde” starts with a beautiful piano melody that becomes the main riff. I love the rolling riff in the chorus with the subtle choir elements and the lead singer’s clear voice. The intensity in the chorus is really nice especially paired with the building verses and the strong, echoing chorus at the end. It’s a lovely, intense song.

I Left My Heart at Home” is the album’s “slow song”, leading off with vocals and a soft piano melody. While the singer’s upper register is good, I think this would have sounded better if he sang it in his mid range, where he’s stronger. I like the classical elements, particularly the subtle violin in the solo. The way the sing builds is another high point for me.

The Mercy Racers” gets right into the intensity. I don’t mind the high-tech sounding symphonics due to the theming of the song. The snare in the first verse is an interesting, subtle addition in the song, but was a little distracting for me. The harmonies in the chorus are wonderful, though. The synth is thematically tingling in the back. The guitar is roaring under the soaring vocals and each harmony/melody plays well with each other.

Callsigns”, the official closer of the album, begins with a slow, vocal introduction before blasting into a high-fueled symphonic intro and syncopated beginning for the first verse. I like the harmony between the synth and the traditional instruments. The song soars more than the last song; the vocal melody is slower, dominating the faster instrumentals. The slowdown at the end of the song bridges the final chorus featuring a key change and a slightly varied melody, a nice conclusion to the song.

Deep Water”, the bonus track, begins heavily with some more fast, videogame-like symphonics. When the vocals come on, the synth subsides, and it becomes a typical Power Metal with some heavy speed elements. The vocals are good, with some gritty tones in the chorus. The sweeps in the guitar solo are traditional speed and done well. However, I’m personally not a fan of the videogame symphonics. Other than that, it’s a solid song.

Overall, the band employs a lot of subtle tricks to keep their songs fresh and varied through the album. The criticisms about videogame symphonics are more personal and don’t reflect on the band; I’m just not a fan of overusing electronic music that sounds dated to me, like something I’d hear in a childhood videogame. Again, it’s a personal note. Critically, the band harmonizes wonderfully, and while some songs are more unique and ear-catching than others, all of them are solid songs and worth a listen.

Songwriting: 9
Production: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Trust
2. Sunshine Path
3. Lost Control
4. Solitude
5. Nightmariner
6. The Golden Horde
7. I Left My Heart at Home
8. The Mercy Racers
9. Callsigns
10. Deep Water
Marcus Lång – Vocals
Jarmo Myllyvirta – Keyboards
Aleksi Hirvonen – Guitars
Henri Pirkkalainen – Drums
Onni Hirvonen – Bass
Record Label: Scarlet Records


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