A little inconsistent, but still gets the green tick
Six years after the band was formed, Germany’s Voices of Destiny finally released their debut album, ‘From the Ashes’. A female-fronted symphonic power metal band, Voices of Destiny had a great formula for their first disc, aside from strong song-writing, musically included using gothic and neo-classical metal; and as a result received positive reviews around the web. Now in the first quarter of 2012, Voices of Destiny have returned for album number II, called ‘Power Dive’, hoping to recapture the shine and pristine that the first disc contained.
Fronting the band is young female vocalist Maike Holzmann, who sings in a semi to full operatic style similar to Tarja Turunen back in the early days of Nightwish (‘Oceanborn’, etc); however she is still grappling with precision and power in her voice. Gruff male vocalist/keyboardist, Lukas Palme has taken on a larger role on ‘Power Dive’, being the “beast” to Maike’s “beauty”; belting out cookie-monster vocals, growls and screams throughout the CD. At times it can be off putting as I feel that his vocal additions is not really required as much as it is on this disc, but it does help with adding a touch of aggression into songs that may be lacking aggression in either the musical department or with Maike.
While the debut ‘From the Ashes’ contained a great consistency throughout, with song-writing, vocal performance and musicianship, unfortunately ‘Power Dive’ takes a noticeable dive in pretty much all those areas across the board. Despite having an angelic and harmonious voice, Maike’s delivery can be quite weak and unimpressive at times when it is needed to be strong, passionate and commanding. The operatic style can also get tedious very quickly, especially when Maike’s pitch and (lack of) emotion stays on one particular level. The times where Maike sings in a semi-operatic style, her vocals are far more pleasant and also contain more emotion; which begs the question – why not sing that way 100% of the time?
The music on the new release pretty much follows the same script as their first album, with an entwinement of symphonic power metal mixed with a touch of neo-classical and elements of gothic metal. Guitarist Christopher Gutjahr picks up where he left off from the debut, however with slightly less aggression, replaced by intricate and complex guitar riffs, hooks and passages. I feel that Voices of Destiny could really benefit from a second guitarist, as that would build up the grunt and aggression that is sometimes lacking in their music. The double bass pummelling from drummer Erik Seitz (who at the time of this review has since left the band) is another enjoyable factor on the CD, although there aren’t as many quicker songs on this disc than the previous.
When talking about the tracks on offer here on ‘Power Dive’, I do feel that the first two tracks are somewhat weak, where typically a band’s opening 2-3 tracks on a release should be the strongest. “Power Dive”, a slow to mid-paced opening track (after the short intro) trundles along with not much hype and doesn’t get out of first gear except for when it’s time for Lukas Palme to growl his lines. The second track too fails to grab your attention, that being “My Separation”. Starting off well almost black metal blast beats, the song soon becomes fairly dreary, although overall a touch better than “Power Dive”, with some great guitar/drum passages throughout the track.
The first excellent track on the album is “Dreams Awake”, why – because Maike’s vocals are so much better when they aren’t operatic. There’s also more of a gothic tinge within the song than on the previous two, plus top-notch guitar riffs and much more emotion and grunt. “Kami” continues the trend of great songs after that disappointing start; this one has a dark gothic theme, crossed with symphonic metal for a kick ass song with thundering bass guitar, double bass and down-tuned guitars. Atmospheric, heavy and catchy, that’s what you wanna hear and “Kami” comes through with the goods.
The next best song on ‘Power Dive’ is the semi-ballad “Being Worth”. Containing one of the best vocal performances from Maike, the song is straight-up gothic metal (but with symphonic metal in parts), with warming atmospheric keyboards and deep and powerful guitar riffs. Above all that, the passion and emotion on the track is quite high, which adds further depth and meaning to the song; in short, you’ll remember and keep coming back to it. The third of the three absolute best tracks on the disc is the bombastic “Your Hands”, a memorable kick ass track that has everything you want – power, grunt, emotion, and a nice blend of Maike’s and Lukas’ vocals working well together.
While it is not as convincing and consistent as their debut, Voices of Destiny have still delivered an above average CD containing more good songs than bad. The inconsistency on the disc will need to be looked at, as well as deciding which style of vocal delivery is better suited for Maike. Either move forward with the operatic style, which I feel she struggles with at times, or just ditch the operatic style and sing as she normally would; where I find she excels at and is able to sing with more passion and conviction. Overall, if you enjoyed Voices of Destiny’s debut release, then ‘Power Dive’ will also keep you entertained, after a sketchy start however. Also, fans of other symphonic/gothic metal bands like Edenbridge, Epica, After Forever, Nemesea, Visions of Atlantis and early Nightwish should find ‘Power Dive’ an album worthy of picking up.