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On disc: Imperia

Queen Of Light - Claudia Ehrhardt - 6 stars
Secret Passion - Lars Bjørn - 9 stars
Queen Of Passion - Claudia Ehrhardt - 7 stars

Queen Of Passion

Queen Of Passion
(Massacre Records - 2013)

Imperia isn't one of the bands which delivers a new album every other year, now Massacre Records is presenting a digital-only release, a best of called Queen Of Passion. Singer Helena Michaelsen and Imperia teamed up with Massacre Records before the release Queen Of Light in 2007 and so the best of offers 5 songs from Queen Of Light and 6 tracks of their 2011 album Secret Passion. But the closer Mistress never been available for download.

For fans of Imperia this best of doesn't offer something new, but fans of symphonic gothic metal who don't own the Imperia albums it's a great way to discover Imperia.

7 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt


Secret Passion

Secret Passion
(Massacre Records - 2011)

A very strong new album from Norwegian singer Helena Michaelsen who performs in the band Imperia together with songwriter Jan Yrlund. This is a very well-worked album where the songs have been carefully written during 2009-2010, and resulting in Imperia's 3rd album coming in March 2011 on Massacre Records. A masterpiece of spiritual songs that clearly have influence in Helena Michaelsen's background in opera performances, but also gives way for the splendid compositions by Yrlund. 12 songs with soft melodic, even gothic arrangements, combined with metal / rock guitars as proven in the song Greed. Only song that falls out of this category is the bonus song Mistress that is pure pop, and somehow misplaced on this album.
First out comes Touch Of Your Hand, a traditional hard rock / metal song which is driven by Helena's fantastic vocal expression. The title track Secret Passion is full of strong metal and epical melodic symphony like rock, one of the best songs here. Let Down is slow epic melodic super metal, the highest standard of metal-opera you can get, a fantastic song. Like Rain and Hold On are two strong songs with good piano and guitar from Yrlund and again the topping comes from Helena Michaelsen's voice. My Sleeping Angel is the finishing song, a soft ballad to praise the children with love and kindness. This is an album for lovers of melodic metal seeking the highest quality, both within songwriting and vocal performance.

9 stars

Lars Bjørn


Queen Of Light

Queen Of Light
(Massacre Records - 2007)

With singer Helena Iren Michaelsen (ex-Trail Of Tears) the multi-national band Imperia will always be placed next to bands like Nightwish and Within Temptation and the gothic metal genre. But they play symphonic metal with partly opera-like vocals.
The opener Mirror is showing well that melodic, symphonic heavy metal is their home. Musically a bit like Edenbridge, but Helena has a deeper and more powerful voice. The combination of heavy riffs and string arrangements are done very well and the powerful voice can stand up to guitars and keyboards, but in the middle part of the song Helena adds some opera-like vocals and this is in my opinion the weak spot of the song. Very fast they start into Fly Like The Wind - a melodic speed metal song, but then a break leads into a mid-tempo part and the chorus, then back to the opening theme. The backing vocals add some oriental sounds which seems to be out of place. Live this is a treat for headbangers - a neckbreaker! The melody lines of Raped By The Devil are catchy and the modern touch, the whispered vocals and the guitars doubling the vocal line at some parts make this one special. With Broken Wings they slow down a bit and in the beginning Helena sounds fragile and hurt. A symphonic balladesque track which shows a different side of the Norwegian singer. She hits some high notes here, but sounds more emotional which gives the song some depths. On Braveheart the soprano opera vocals are what would make me skip to the next song.... When the first notes of Norway come out of the speaker the folk elements let me think of some Irish folk, but it seems I was wrong.... Later some growls been added and so this is some kind of folk symphonic metal with some black metal elements. A weird combination. Well, not that weird and it can work, but here it sounds weird. Perhaps just the arrangement.... Why they recorded The Birth Of... I don't know and to be honest, it's a waste of time. With Queen Of Light they recorded a song which seems to be aimed at fans of Nightwish, but I think the opera-like vocals aren't enough to win them...
I know that Helena Michaelsen is a trained singer and some might love her opera-style vocals, but in my opinion it's the weak spot of Imperia. She is much better when she sings deep and has much more power in her voice. Using some effects on her voice like on Raped By The Devil is more interesting and might get them out of the gothic metal categorization. They try to combine different styles, but it seems that they testing the waters and can't decide where to go. There are songs or parts which I really like, but that isn't enough, coz I think others will have the same problem I do have. Before you record another album, please decide which way to go!
If you want to check them out, listen to: Mirror, Broken Wings, Queen Of Light and Raped By The Devil.

6 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt

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