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Nota Amara - At The Line

Nota Amara
At The Line
by Tom Colyer at 14 July 2014, 8:28 AM

I always get a little scared when someone tells me that a band has an operatic style lead vocalist. I am a big believer that the two should go hand in hand and sound both beautiful and epic but in reality it seems to generally happen with all the organic symbiosis of a stone being thrown at a giraffe. Thankfully this is not always the case however and there are some bands out there that manage to nail it and create something that is not only well crafted but has the same sense of drama and theatrics that Opera is famous for.

NOTA AMARA have done just this and a whole lot more. A near perfect blending of Operatic singing and chuggy, technical Metal guitar work with a tastefully employed smattering of synths and keyboard lines.  The album opens with “Dorian” and a sound-scape that conjures up images of the Tundras and icy, barren forests of Russia. Natalie Kononova enters the song with a voice that could almost be a lamenting member of the Oligarchy that has been exiled into this bleak forest. This calming atmosphere is quickly broken up and the ensuing combination of guitar and synth see our shunned noble being chased through the aforementioned woodland by an unknown assailant as the pace picks up and you get a real sense of where this album is going. It is easy to keep this kind of mental imagery going throughout the album as the music maintains such a wonderfully vivid atmosphere that wraps itself around you and takes your mind off wandering around the frozen wastelands of the imagination.

The musicianship demonstrated by Alexander Bryl on this album is phenomenal. I must admit, I get a little tingly when I hear a healthy abuse of things like pinched harmonics and pitch shifting.  Even if you were to just base an album on these rather shallow joys, his musical work on this release would be satisfying but it just goes on to get better with emotive guitar riff and expertly arranged orchestral backing that really pushes the music into another place. The fifteen minute epic “The Dark Tower” is a pretty extraordinary journey through a whole range of themes with almost seamless transitions. Before you know it, the song has changed from a piano laden and relatively soft introduction to a riff that is almost reminiscent of bands like PERIPHERY with its speedy technical edge that would have felt so alien just sixty seconds ago. By the end of the song I realised that I had traversed the realms of soft and sad pianos, chuggy technical guitars, blistering shred solos, an organ that sounded like it was being played by some demented vicar and ended up in a bath of big expansive synth keyboards. All in one fifteen minute long journey.

Of course, nothing can be perfect and even though the vocals are some of the best operatics I have heard on any Metal releases in the last few years they do fall  little flat occasionally and some of the songs could definitely be described as a little cheesy in their general timbre and structure.

This all said however, NOTA AMARA have given me a new hope for this kind of music and show that whatever your preconceptions about this strain of Metal, there are always going to be bands out there that do it well and provide a welcome surprise.

4 Star Rating

1. Dorian
2. The Third Wish
3. At The Line
4. Beatrice
5. Too Late To Wait
6. Sirens
7. Faust
8. Nosce Te Ipsum
9. The Dark Tower
10. La Comedia
Alexander Bryl – Guitars, Synth, Programming
Natalie Kononova - Vocal
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 06 February 2023

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