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Surma - The Light Within

The Light Within
by Jean-François Poulin at 25 October 2020, 11:43 AM

SURMA is a Progressive Symphonic Metal band with members from all corners of Europe ranging from the Faroe Islands, Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Russia. This is the side project of TYR mainman Heri Joensen with Viktorie Surmova from the BOHEMIAN METAL RHAPSODY band. They were founded back in 2018 and have just signed with Metal Blade records for the release of their first album.

Well this was a surprise, I didn’t know that Heri Joensen from TYR had a side project at all. It really came out of nowhere for me as I do read a lot about Metal news on a daily basis. Heri was been a guest on a number of bands throughout the years like WINTERSUN, ALESTORM and ENSIFERUM but this is the first time I believe that he has collaborated with other artists for an entirely new band.

The album was self produced by both Heri Joensen and Viktorie Surmova. It really packs a punch, according to what I have read, the band wrote most of the album in 2019 and really took their time to produce the songs at the guitarist’s home studio. In between the new TYR album that was released in the beginning of the year I think and this album, the TYR mainman was quite the busy man. The production is top notch and definitely something different from is other band and producing and tracking Symphonic Metal is no small task but he did such a good job on it though.

There is an obvious synergy between her vocals and his guitar work. They gel well from the opening chords of the album and the chemistry is everpresent for the rest of the album. I was pleasantly surprised by the raw emotion and power of Viktorie’s vocals, very enchanting and sweet but can pull out the higher notes with ease.

You want a good sense what they can do? Well listen to ‘’Like the River Flows’’ especially the live video of the song. It shows also how tight the band sounds and obviously the singer does not need any autotune at all. She has the pipes and a very endearing presence of stage. She has the charisma and presence you so need in the genre. I have heard so many female fronted metal bands in the last few years that lack that passion, especially live but it’s not the case here. Heri Joensen dives deep in some growls on this one and really added something to this repertoire that we don’t usually hear in his main band.

You can hear also a stripped down and acoustic version of ‘’Reveal the Light Within’’ that resonates extremely well. You can hear the real talent of a band, especially the vocalist when you do acoustic tracks like these. The song meshes well with the acoustic guitars and simple arrangements and Viktorie shows the world that she is real and ready for the bigtime.

They sound like a less orchestral and operatic EPICA. They have the energy and power of the band but don’t have that grandiose feel about it though. The music is still very powerful and driven and touches a chord in the listener. It’s not easy to stand out in the genre, AD INFINITUM was able to really stand out earlier this year but a lot of bands I reviewed this year and the last fell flat and did not keep the listener entertained enough to continue. Well SURMA has the factor about them, the musicianship is top notch, the structure of the songs are complex enough to keep you engage and you have such a powerful lead singer. She really brings it all and brings a lot of experience to the band and it shows. She is just not a pretty face, she can have the audience in the palm of her hands and she has the power and charisma to go a long way.

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

4 Star Rating

1. Rendition
2. Reveal the Light Within
3. Like the River Flows
4. Fire and Wind
5. Desire
6. The City of Winds
7. The Selkie (Kopakonan)
8. Until It Rains Again
9. Emptiness (is no More)
10. Cages of Rage
11. Downfall
12. Lost to Time
13. Deconstruction
Viktorie Surmova – Vocals
Heri Joensen – Guitars
Aleksandr Zhukov – Drums
Rens Bourgondien – Bass
Record Label: Metal Blade Records


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