Review: Hydra – Solar Empire

603575Written by Rainer Kerber

Hydra was founded by singer Lisa Rieger and guitar player Chris Diefenbach in October 2013. The band name was chosen because the sound of the band from the Bavarian town of Regensburg should sound as versatile as the heads of the serpent-like monster of Greek mythology. Their first 10 songs were recorded within a few months and the debut album, Malachite Skies, was released in February 2015. After that the band went on tour in Europe before they went back to the studio.

The second album Solar Empire, published on December 30th, 2016, is an ambitious concept album. The tragic love story ‘Solar Empire – Scent of the Wolfes’ is a fantasy adaptation of the classic Romeo and Juliet theme. Singer Lisa Rieger has written a short story (in German and English) on the concept – the limited edition of 100 copies is enclosed with the Special Edition.

With the anthemic ‘Scarlet Occident’ the album starts brilliantly. Here, Hydra present their trademarks such as great melodies, bombastic choruses, filigree guitar playing and the enchanting soprano voice of Lisa Rieger. Still, the album offers more than expected. High-speed metal and the growls of Lisa give ‘Towards The End’ a thrashy flip side, coupled with a lot of bombast by the choruses and Ally Storch on the violin.

The rocking ‘Days Of Thunder’ is where Rieger really proves the whole variety of her voice. The same can be said of the beautiful ballad ‘Crystalline Cage.’ Building on the variety is ‘Horns Of Era’Kor,’ which could fit the soundtrack to Lord of the Rings with Henning Basse (Firewind, MaYaN) making an epic appearance.

The year 2016 ended with a true bang for symphonic metal and Hydra’s Solar Empire is a masterpiece of the genre. Highly versatile songwriting coupled with outstanding musicians in the studio enhanced by an illustrious band of guest musicians. The epic cinematic sound is impressive, and the orchestra passages and the chorus of the Laurentius Singers ensure for that. However, in my opinion, the guitars come a little short with a filigree guitar solo here and there and a few truly powerful riffs. Despite a lack of heaviness, the guitars are partially compensated by Lisa’s soprano voice and, above all, her growls. It’s worth your money. 8/10

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