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Manora – Brave The Storm

Manora
Brave The Storm
by Thomas Kumke at 02 January 2022, 10:39 PM

MANORA hailing from Leiden, The Netherlands, were formed in 2016. They are a symphonic Metal band. After the release of their debut EP “Dreamshapes” in 2017, it took the band four years to complete the first full-length album. “Brave The Storm” is an independent release and it has a more than one hour playing time.

While Sweden is arguably the epicenter of Death Metal, The Netherlands are clearly leading the symphonic Metal race. There are plenty of great bands such as EPICA, STREAM OF PASSION or DELAIN and there is an abundance of outstanding symphonic Metal musicians. With MANORA, there is a new band which may be able to carry the Dutch symphonic Metal flag in the years to come. The formulae seems simple: epic melodies, more or less bombastic orchestral arrangements, and a classic female vocalist leading the band. MANORA stick to that formulae and the opening “System Shutdown” gives more than a glimpse what the listener can expect from “Brave The Storm”: a bombastic orchestral intro that transitions into an up-tempo track with powerful guitar riffing supported by the keyboards, catchy, almost sing-along choruses with the soprano vocals of Mirte van der Ham. The vocals are supported by an opera choir during the middle part of the track. “System Shutdown” is a direct, heavy, and sharp opener.

The Traveler” has a quieter start before it transitions back into the same rhythm and tempo as the opening track. The guitars have a more dominant riffing while the keyboards provide the melodies. The track is driven by the double-bass drumming and the orchestral arrangements harmonize well with the instruments. “Break Your Fall” continues with rhythm and tempo, but the orchestral parts are more dominant in particular during the middle part where brass, strings, and choir take over. There is, however, room for a very contributing lead guitar solo that is in great harmony with the orchestral arrangements. With “Wired To Obey”, MANORA provide something different: a mid-tempo track, which is a bit more quiet compared to the opening songs, with catchy melodies, another good lead guitar solo, and a well contributing piano during the first half of the track. “Wired To Obey” is the single release of the album and the YouTube link is given below.

The next few tracks are all in mid-tempo and cannot quite keep up with most other songs on the album. Both “Pull The Strings” and “Endgame” include some parts where the orchestral arrangements become too dominant at the expense of the vocals. “Endgame” has been also part of the debut EP “Dreamshapes”. “Another Destiny” and “Symphony Of Lies” are more dynamic and faster than mid-tempo, with heavy riffing and catchy melodies. In “Another Destiny”, the orchestral part is mainly driven by the string section which accompanies the vocals well. “Symphony Of Lies” is driven by the tight guitar riffing and the track has the catchiness it needs to become another single release in the future.

There is no symphonic Metal album without ballad and here it comes: “The Heavens (Are A Picture Frame)”. It is a very well composed and arranged song towards the voice of Mirte van der Ham. The sound is mainly driven by the piano at the beginning and later on by the full orchestra. “Dreamshapes” is another mid-tempo song with powerful guitar riffing and a well composed mix between the Metal instruments and the orchestral elements. Both parts are perfectly balanced and that works towards the vocals, who keep the track expertly together.

While “The Sacrifice” cannot quite keep up with most songs on the album, the closing track “A Beautiful Tragedy” is one of the highlights the album. It is a mixture of quiet parts with the piano being the leading instrument and powerful and heavy parts dominated by the guitars and the keyboards. There are a number of tempo changes and breaks and it also includes another contributing lead guitar solo. The orchestral arrangements are pretty bombastic during most parts of the track. A well composed finale to the album.

Brave The Storm” is a very good symphonic Metal album. It has all the ingredients which makes symphonic Metal so popular: epic melodies and harmonies, catchiness, bombastic orchestral arrangements, and a very good vocalist who keeps all this well together. In fact, with Mirte van der Ham, MANORA have a vocalist who can keep up with the very best in symphonic Metal. While there is still a bit room for improvement regarding the diversity of the sound, overall the songs are very well composed and the album is well produced. MANORA have made a very promising start to their career and symphonic Metal fans can look forward to all the things to come from them in the future.

Songwriting:  9
Musicianship:  8
Memorability:  8
Production:  8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. System Shutdown
2. The Traveler
3. Break Your Fall
4. Wired To Obey
5. Pull The Strings
6. Endgame
7. Another Destiny
8. The Heavens (Are A Picture Frame)
9. Symphony Of Lies
10. Dreamshapes
11. The Sacrifice
12. A Beautiful Tragedy
Lineup:
Mirte van der Ham – Vocals
Ivo Visser – Guitars
Arthur Stok ­ Keyboards
Tijn Scholtze – Drums
Tomasz Kizielewicz – Bass
Record Label: Independent
     


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