Hamka - Multiversal
Fighter Records
Symphonic Power Metal
14 songs (57' 27")
Release year: 2017
Reviewed by Andy

After a hiatus of eight years, Willdric Lievan and Elisa C. Martin restarted Hamka with a promising single, but we still had to wait another four years till they got enough for a new LP. It's worth the wait, especially for those missing the vocals of the ex-Dark Moor singer on a project. This is meant to be a kind of symphonic power metal/world music crossover, but nobody wanting a straightforward knights-and-dragons power metal album of the sort Elisa is known for will be disappointed.

Since Lievan and longtime associate Yann Mouhad put some effort into making this an ethnic album, I'll go over that. You can hear Arabic percussion; possibly a Turkish ney; something that sounds like an erhu; and a zither, or maybe a dutar. There's an intermission with only ethnic instruments, and on Seaquest and Orkanian's Land, they base the beginning of the song on a traditional Middle Eastern beat -- at first. But the ethnic instruments often turn into window dressing despite their best efforts, getting easily overwhelmed by the guitars and Elisa's voice -- which in all justice would overwhelm much more powerful instruments. Plus, the band is a symphonic power metal band and can't resist playing the most bombastic of symphonic power metal -- if a listener was told World War III was an unreleased Dark Moor song, they probably would accept that unquestioningly. The song from the single, Earth's Call, was a great song when it came out, and it's still one of the best on the album, with guitar, keyboard, and zither dualing on the solo and Elisa showing off a range effectively unchanged since the 90s.

Mid-tempo pieces like Hope fare a bit less well. The crunching riffs are good, but the melody isn't as neatly tied up as some of the other ones, making the chorus sound unfinished. But they nail it on Dark Night Falls. Elisa C. Martin, despite the grit she can put into a fast song, always could croon the soft lines of a power ballad sweetly enough to bring tears to a listener's eyes. The classical symphonic moments of Orkanian's Land and Seed of a New World are also incredibly well-made, reminding one of Eyes of Twilight part 2 from the Unearth album. While we're on the subject of Unearth, the melodies on this one are overall better than Unearth's were. There is still plenty of orchestral/instrumental back-and-forth, but the band gets to a point on every song.

Multiversal tries to be something different, but it's always a hair's breadth away from turning into Of Wars in Osyrhia. Most longtime fans of Martin and Lievan's work won't think that's a bad thing at all. I listened to this just after writing up my 2017 awards, but this is probably the best symphonic power metal album I've heard all year.

Bandcamp: https://hamka.bandcamp.com/releases.

Killing Songs :
Earth's Call, Dark Night Falls, Orkanian's Land, Seed of a New World
Andy quoted 89 / 100
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