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REVIEW: THE HARPS – “Love Strikes Doves”

The astonishing event with music is that it can be entirely surprising when you least expect it. One day you find yourself headbanging to the sounds of symphonic black metal and the next you rhythmically stomp your feet and move your body to the elegant melodies of hard rock & blues tunes. In this case, that’s exactly what happened to me with The Harps and their album “Love Strikes Doves“. But, first things first.

The Harps were founded in 2012 by their charismatic front woman Andry Lagiou in Athens, Greece. At the time the band was performing Andry‘s original compositions and arrangements which led mainly to hard rock driven, ear-catching guitar riffs weaved together with some of the vocalist’s classical music influences. Fast forward to 2014 and The Harps enter a new era with Andry Lagiou meeting the band’s new members consisting of Christoforos Krokidis, Thanasis Tsaouselis and none other than Symphony X‘s Mike Lepond on bass guitar. Along with Stelios Pavlou the line up was complete and “Love Strikes Doves” was born.

Including nine (9) musical compositions, “Love Strikes Doves” is the band’s debut album and it is a first-rate, sensational phenomenon. The overall atmosphere of the record is full of beloved 60s-70s-80s vibe, practiced in a modern effect while keeping the familiarity of that era’s female fronted hard rock music. Whether this was calculated by The Harps or just developed along the recordings of the album I can’t tell, but the result is without question incredible. Andry‘s performance in the entire album is prodigious as she appears like a natural and relentless talent; her voice tends towards a clear, melodic tone while roaring of fury and need. She reminds a lot of a melodic Janis Joplin at her highest and most intense moments.

Love Strikes Doves” opens with “Lovecircle” which is honestly one of the best rock songs I have heard in a very long time. A perfect introduction to what’s following. Gentle and fanciful vocals blended with charming guitars and choral harmonies making for an illusory sensation into “Wireflame” for those who stand tall to face all difficulties. In “Wireflame” we are admitted to the terrific keyboard works embodied in this record which helps bring out the old aura and quality of “Love Strikes Doves“. “Vulnerably in Love” follows next with Andry leading this slow tempo tune along a cordial piano melody and guitar harmonies while the bass highlights the overall song. “Immortal Soldier” picks up the speed a little bit and just as all soldiers are thickening up their skin so does Andry, delivering one of the finest vocal performances filled with passion and rock ‘n’ roll screams. Next in line is “Walked on a Street” in which the guitar has the leading part with a riff testament to the sounds of the seventies and Andry being in top shape once again with her – almost – theatrical portrayal. “Bloody Sun” showcases Mike Lepond in quite a different approach playing together with the keyboards to create an absolute, psychedelic, influenced tune which is a covenant to the rock anthems of past decades. The keyboard sounds very similar to a synthesizer or some hammond/continental organ which enhances the entire mood and album altogether. The longest track on “Love Strikes Doves” follows next titled “Pink Palm Tree” and with almost 6 minutes of pure delight its nothing but an honorable approach to former legends of the scene. “Red Line” continues on the same pattern with Andry‘s presence being so powerful that manages to mark her signature vocals for others to follow. Finally the curtain falls with “Blue Lovecircle“, an unconditionally graceful ballad with wonderful piano parts, emotional vocals and keyboard/guitar solos; showcasing the musicianship of everyone participating in this record.

I really find myself ecstatic listening to “Love Strikes Doves” and I am pleasantly surprised by The Harps. They managed to deliver a truly exceptional album filled with sentiment, excitement and reflection of true rock ‘n’ roll charisma with a modern twist. Andry puts so much of herself and her emotions into her renditions of songs that you can’t help but be moved; “Love Strikes Doves” truly captures the essence of music and it is pure passion vocalized. I am afraid it would be hard for an exceptional album like this to find its rightful place in today’s inferior, mainstream/pop/rap/hip hop dominated scene but I am overjoyed to realize there are still genuine artists that make inspired, soulful music for the heart.

RATING: 9/10

Love Strikes Doves” – tracklist:
1. Lovecircle
2. Wireflame
3. Vulnerably in Love
4. Immortal Soldier
5. Walked on a Street
6. Bloody Sun
7. Pink Palm Tree
8. Red Line
9. Blue Lovecircle

The Harps is:
Andry Lagiou – Vocals
Mike Lepond – Bass
Christoforos Krokidis – Guitars
Thanasis Tsaouselis – Keyboards
Stelios Pavlou – Drums

Facebook: www.facebook.com/andryharps

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REVIEW: SYNKVERVET – “Mistborn”

Synkvervet‘s new album entitled “Mistborn” showed up in our inbox, out of the blue, and we are really fascinated with this band. For those of you who don’t know, Synkvervet hail from the land of Norway and this should definitely govern your senses for what’s about to happen. Originally started out as a one-man studio project by Ingemar in the fall of 2011 to slowly evolve to the six piece metal ensemble that they are now. The name means illusion and comes from the Old Norse sagas, in case you were wondering.

So far Synkvervet has release two full length albums, one EP and two singles. More specifically their debut “Vår avmakt” (2013), their sophomore album “Trollspeil” (2014), the EP “Forgotten Memories” (2015) and the singles “Ishjerte” and “Aurora” both in 2016 all of which received favorable reviews in general. The band’s new, third full length album, is called “Mistborn” and its set to be released in the end of May (2017).

I have been listening to “Mistborn” for the past 3 hours in repeat and I can only acknowledge that Synkvervet did a terrific job with this album and delivered some of the finest Symphonic Black Metal tunes nowadays. The band is capable of infusing chilling Black Metal euphonies with Symphonic transitions having three different types of vocals; Yes, that’s correct. Christina is handling the female operatic voices, while Truls is liable for all grim/growls in the album and then there’s Niclas, the bass player, with his unforeseen melodic tone giving a melodious emphasis in the musical compositions. Everything sounds genuinely well blended and you can tell Synkvervet put a lot of thought and effort in their arrangements.

Mistborn” is full of Symphonic harmonies and thrilling Black Metal outbursts all united by Folk mysticism and spiritualism. Lyrically the band cross Nordic pagan pathways along with mythology and folklore in a singular weave of interpretation. All songs are well orchestrated and all instruments well balanced with the operatic vocals sharing the growls and grim chorals in the majority of the album, while the melodic voices primary uplift our senses to memorable themes. I was pleasantly surprised with the language variety in Synkvervet‘s new release, as the band serenades in English and Norwegian (if I am not mistaken). It definitely elevates the whole darkened atmosphere of “Mistborn“.

My personal favorites include “Into Oblivion” which hands out an overture of immense vocal unity, “Lost in the Shadows” in which Truls really stands out with his warbling abilities and range, all under the fiery echo’s of Symphonic Black Metal, “Alone in Eternity” with its grandiose rhythm and obscurity and “Aurora“, which in my opinion, is the highlight of “Mistborn” as it conceptually demonstrates the release as a whole.

Overall “Mistborn” sounds crisp and thoroughly produced with the mix being downright heavy and fitting for Synkvervet‘s character. The band conveys a mature act with wonderful, dramatic arrangements and melodies gifted to gratify the listener from beginning to end. I am certain I will be listening a lot to this album in the upcoming weeks and I recommend it to all supporters of the female fronted Symphonic Black Metal scene. Exceptional work Synkvervet, well done!

RATING: 8.5/10

Mistborn” – Tracklist:
01. Introduction
02. Anthem to the North
03. Into Oblivion
04. Trollskogen
05. Through the Eyes of a Demon
06. Lost in the Shadows
07. On Raven Wings
08. Alone in Eternity
09. Aurora
10. I Den Svarte Solens Rike

Synkvervet is:

Christina – Vocals, Lyrics
Truls – Grim/Growl Vocals & Lyrics
Ingemar – Guitar & Programming
Niclas – Bass, Vocals
Rino – Drums
Espen – Guitar

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Synkvervet