Xandria - Sacrificium
Napalm Records
Symphonic Metal
12 songs (65:10)
Release year: 2014
Xandria, Napalm Records
Reviewed by Joel
Album of the month

The title track from Germany's Xandria is first, it is a ten minute epic piece of bombastic symphonic metal. The angelic but powerful vocals of Dianne Van Giersbergen comes in shortly after the intro. Much like her predecessor, Manuela Kraller, Giersbergen is a soprano with a very wide vocal range. Sacrificium has everything you would expect from an epic piece like this. From the choral vocals, the melodic interlude section of strings and guitars. I could write an entire synopsis on this song alone. Definitely the right choice putting this song first. Nightfall is the next song and the first single in which you can see the video here. The song shows Giersbergen holding back on the reins a bit vocally, and not going full operatic all the time which adds a dynamic that I would compare her vocals to Floor Jansen (Nightwish/Revamp). Like Jansen, Giersbergen has many facets to her vocal range. Piano briefly opens up Dreamkeeper, with bass player Steven Wussow, taking the led during the first verse. This is a solid melodic song that is followed by the guitar driven opening of Stardust. A faster song with a driving rhythm section and different dynamics throughout. The beautiful The Undiscovered Land is next. With gentle strings and Giersbergen singing eloquently and beautiful. The entire band joins in later in the song. Reminds me of Edenbridge or Tarja's time in Nightwish on the classic Sleeping Sun. Comparisons for sure, but not a cookie cutter copy either. Betrayer is a very fast song with a driving backbeat from drummer, Gerit Lamm. This song actually reminds of something I reviewed on Ms. Van Giersbergen's other band, Ex-Libris's Medea disc earlier this year. I love the heavier guitar riffs and the wall of tone they create.

Until The End, Come With Me, Little Red Relish are all mid paced songs that offer different elements, but none of them sound the same. That is a testament to a band within this genre, since many of them have songs that sound like the ones that came right before it. The gorgeous Our Neverworld switches between soft strings and piano with Giersbergen's enchanting vocals. The heavier dynamics add a lot of variation to a song that could have been a bland ballad. The interlude and as well as one of the best guitar solos on the entire disc, are found on this song. Temple of Hate opens with a faster tempo. With solid double bass drumming, and lots of solid guitar playing with strings sprinkled here and there for good measure. The song switches a few times. This is one of my favorite songs on the disc. It also features Giersbergen singing in harmony with herself, with one vocal line in her standard voice, while the second is a few octaves higher in her soprano range. Cellos and piano start the last song, the melancholic Sweet Atonement. This song definitely showcases ?Xandria's new vocalist, and it definitely is a great farewell on the disc.

Its definitely a no-brainer to see, that I really enjoyed listening to this. If you do not like Symphonic Metal, this will probably not change your mind. If your an open minded metalhead, or enjoy music from this genre, and never heard of Dianne Van Giersbergen, you should really check this out. She deserves to be mentioned in the company of Floor Jansen, Simone Simmons and even the mighty Tarja. She is on par with all of them, but has an identity and tone in her voice, that is all her own. If you are not familiar with this band, this disc is also a new beginning for them, and a great place to start. While I loved Neverworld's End and Manuela Kraller's vocals, I believe in the twenty plus years this band has been together, this is their greatest achievement,and I hope the world gets a chance to see them live. Xandria will be on tour in the US with Sonata Arctica and Delain this fall.

Killing Songs :
ALL
Joel quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Xandria that we have reviewed:
Xandria - Fire & Ashes reviewed by Andy and quoted no quote
Xandria - India reviewed by Ian and quoted 86 / 100
Xandria - Ravenheart reviewed by Jack and quoted 85 / 100
Xandria - Kill The Sun reviewed by Jack and quoted 85 / 100
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