Review: Xandria – Theater of Dimensions

698_xandria_cmyk.jpgWritten by Rainer Kerber

Xandria was founded in 1997 in Bielefeld, Germany, Xandria officially entered the symphonic metal scene in 2003 with their debut album Kill the Sun. Five albums and numerous singers later, they return with Theater of Dimensions, marking their third release with lead vocalist Dianne van Giersbergen.

The album opener “Where the Heart is Home” establishes the marching direction of the album. Epic orchestration, opulent choruses, banging guitars and powerful drumming form the sound base for the beguiling opera soprano by Dianne van Giersbergen, but Xandria 2017 offers even more than you might expect.

A surprising change of pace for longtime fans is the thrashing ‘We Are Murderers (We All).’ Here, Soilwork front singer Björn Strid is featured growling. This song would be countered, in a good way, with the more progigious ‘Death to the Holy.’ These songs are brilliant changes of pace from business as usual, and my impression is only reinforced by Dianne’s somewhat unusual pronunciation. Another changeup in the formula comes with the mixture of ballad and midtempo in the anthem ‘Forsaken Love.’

With ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ the album also offers a real power ballad. The instrumental ‘Céilí’ is very different from the other songs on the album with the bombast significantly lower, and on the Celtic Folk side with Santiano- or D’Artagnan attitude giving n interesting, audible spot of color. Even in ‘Burn Me’ the musicians from Bielefeld surprise their fans with oriental sounds (Zaher Zorgati) in the middle of the song.

The title song of the album marks the end. A great epic is celebrated here in the more than fourteen minutes worth of playing time. Vocally, Dianne receives support from the new Firewind singer Henning Basse. Here you can hear everything that makes up modern Symphonic Metal with mindful, minimal-instrumented passages alternating with great metal anthems, epic orchestration, bombastic choruses, playful cinematic soundtrack melodies.

With Theater Of Dimensions, Xandria has achieved the best album in their career. Consistently, the band continues their way and celebrates a mixture of Symphonic and Metal at the highest level. With the Dutch Dianne van Giersbergen at the helm, Xandria appear to have found their ideal candidate at the microphone. Due to Dianne’s classic soprano voice, I am often reminded of Nightwish in their first era. In my opinion, they act on the same level as the Symphonic Metal “Old Masters.” 9/10

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