Symphonian – Incarnation Of Reality (2011) Album Review

And here I am reviewing a new comer in the metal realm, this time we have a special band from Ukraine called Symphonian, which was created in 2008 but released their first full length album only in 2011. So, what can we hear in Symphonian’s music? A combination between Gothic metal and old school Death/Doom metal specific in the first records released by bands such as Anathema or Shape of Despair. However, I prefer to integrate these guys in the Gothic Doom Metal section alongside another important name of this genre, Draconian.

In fact, Symphonian’s music is very similar with Draconian’s one, the same atmospheric sound is present in their record and the lyrical themes are similar as well. What makes them so special is the duo between Slava Kuz, the one responsible for the harsh vocals featured in this song, and the angelic yet sorrowful voice made by Lana Sokolova. In terms of voice duo, they are really close with Draconian, probably the only exception is the fact that Lana tends have a higher pitched voice compared to Lisa Johansson (Draconian) while Slava Kuz’s voice is like a rip-off of Anders‘s voice.

With this album, Symphonian managed to get a hold of an important contract with a record house mainly known for their works with many doom metal names, for example Astor Voltaires or Dreams After Death. The tonality of this album is very low, massive weight and expresses feelings and emotions, being both passionate and depressive at the same time. Regarding the lyrical content, unlike Draconian, their lyrics are not entirely focused on rhyme but I would rather categorize them as free lyrics. This album manages to create that superb atmosphere specific for any death/doom metal band because we have a female voice in it, it can be included in the “Beauty and the Beast” concept which was first introduced by Theatre of Tragedy back in the old Aegis days with Liv Kristine as their front woman and by The Gathering with Anneke van Giersbergen.

You can witness the usage of other instruments specific for symphonic metal bands such as violin even organ also synth and programming are used in this album. For a band such as Symphonian which is only at the beginning of their career, I believe that this album, if it will manage to get a fan-base, might be the start of a successful career. I said in another review, usually the first album for a band might not be that great since it usually signifies the fact that the band has not reached their musical maturity yet, still searching for an unique style that could define them. However, by listening this album I gather that the style that best fits them has long been found and not only that, they even managed to pull out something incredible, something that I was stunned. After hearing, A Rose For The Apocalypse from Draconian released in the summer of the same year, I had doubts that another band could release a better record in this genre, especially because Draconian for a long time did not have any rival in this genre. Who would’ve though that a new-comer could match them in creativity and artistic quality with only their debut album. Think about it, we speak about a band that has only been active for 3 almost 4 years and Draconian has a history of over 15 years of existence. Nevertheless, if I were to find an album that would best define Symphonian’s debut, it could be Where Lovers Mourn Draconian’s debut album and I could find some traits similar with the avant-garde elegance present in Celtic Frost’s masterpiece, Monotheist, released back in 2006 (check out especially songs such as Obscured or Drown in Ashes, where there is a duo between male and female vocals).

The album begins with a sombre song called Forbidden which firstly introduces us the gentle voice of Lana. As an introduction, this song might appeal but it is rather boring and monotonous, definitely not the song I wanted from Symphonian when I started listening this album. However, the fun starts with the next track entitled Betrayal, where the duo between Slava Kuz and Lana Sokolova shines the best, it feels like the voices of these two singers flow with the instrumental, it’s absolutely stunning. In this song you could hear the usage of synths and programming. Two other songs that put this album into the spotlight are the 3rd track, Last Words and the 4th track Path of a Soul, absolutely amazing death/doom creations. Silver Streams and Withered continue this majestic album which ends with the 7th track Depressed (Lithiated).

All in all, if you were disappointed by Draconian’s newest record, then Symphonian’s debut might have a surprise or two for you. For old school death/doom metal fans, this album is an obligatory lesson, especially for those that are infatuated with Anathema’s and The Gathering’s older works. In any case, give them a chance, even though they are new-comers, they have the skills and the creativity which rivals with a fully matured band. After hearing this album, I am dead curious how their second work will be and if my guess is correct, it might mark the beginning of a great band. Probably the only thing they need to improve the production quality, which was not that bad in this album but there is definitely room for improvement.

Overall Impression: 95/100