Adagio - Archangels In Black
Listenable Records
Progressive Symphonic Metal
9 songs (47:41)
Release year: 2009
Adagio, Listenable Records
Reviewed by Khelek

This is the fourth album from French symphonic prog masters Adagio. I really enjoyed 2005's Dominate and had high hopes for this album. Fortunately the guys do not disappoint. Archangels In Black sees the band introducing more modern progressive elements into their music and trying some new things. For one the growled vocals that first made their appearance on Dominate have become a larger part of the vocal sound this time around, especially in the second half of the album. This is also the first album featuring new vocalist Christian Palin, although the backing vocals are done by former bandmate Gus Monsanto.

The first track, Vamphyri, picks up right where the last album left off. It begins with some heavily distorted guitar and some pretty savage growling/screaming vocals; this goes on for about half a minute until the melodic guitar work and then the clean vocals come in. Stephen Forte's work with the six-string is excellent as always. The beginning of Fear Circus sounds like something inspired by Pantera-style heavy, groovy riffing. The song gets more melodic as it goes on, especially in the chorus, which makes me feel like it lost some of the momentum in had in the opening riff, but it's still one of my favorites from the album. Undead is another very heavy, pounding song that makes use of some more modern metal elements, especially in the way the vocals are delivered. We hear some metalcore-ish growls and screams from the vocalist, which isn't bad but it sounds a bit out of place in this song to me. The Fifth Ankh takes the growling vocals even further as they are now used as a contrast to the clean singing, which creates an interesting atmosphere that has more aggression in it than most previous Adagio songs. The last song I want to mention is the final track, Getsu Senshi. After the short, calm keyboard intro, this song gets right in your face with fast-paced guitar and keyboard work. The growled vocals are used sparingly here and contrast perfectly with the clean singing.

The technical musicianship of this band is, as always, stellar. The new vocals are also a positive thing when done right, especially in the last half of the album. The guys seem to be searching for a new direction on this album, mixing in some different progressive styles with their usual symphonic metal approach. I think the new vocalist, Christian Palin, has definitely proved himself here. While I did not enjoy this album quite as much as Dominate, I am glad to see these guys trying new things even if it does not always work. Judging by what they have accomplished here I think they will continue to improve their unique sound and create something even better the next time around. In short, another solid release from this very talented band.

Killing Songs :
The Astral Pathway, Fear Circus, The Fifth Ankh, Getsu Senshi
Khelek quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Adagio that we have reviewed:
Adagio - Life reviewed by Joel and quoted 90 / 100
Adagio - Dominate reviewed by Al and quoted 92 / 100
Adagio - Underworld reviewed by Marty and quoted 94 / 100
Adagio - Sanctus Ignis reviewed by Sin and quoted 91 / 100
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