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.
“Love Strikes Doves” – tracklist:
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
Cadaveria was formed in 2001 by lead singer Cadaveria and drummer Marçelo Santos following their departure from Opera IX. The band quickly signed by Scarlet Records released it’s debut album entitled “The Shadows’ Madame” in 2002, receiving very positive feedback worldwide. Being sold out for a very long time, this cult album is now reprinted by Black Tears, after having been completely remastered in May 2013.
Cadaveria’s “The Shadows’ Madame” will be available on July 16th, 2013 featuring a different artwork, edited by Cadaveria herself, for all the fans who missed the debut release, for collectors and for all new Cadaveria fans.
Cadaveria has exhibited Black, Death and Horror metal sounds that seem sharp connected most of the time and “The Shadows’ Madame” is no different. A collection of nicely composed riffs and Cadaverias‘ vocal performance make for a good album, capturing your interest from early on. From the deep growls to the more clean and aggressive vocal attitude, Cadaveria restore faith in extreme female metal vocalists.
“The Shadows’ Madame” is filled with an ancient and mystical atmosphere taking the listener to occult places and filling them with a variety of emotions, mostly dark. Production has notably increased in quality this time around, thanks to the new mastering but what makes “The Shadows’ Madame” stand out is that it never loses its primal identity of a “dark” metal album.
Innovation does not cardinally mean coming up with something completely new; the fusion of the dexterity to take advantage of various influences, the courage of personality that averts these influences from dominating the artist and a load of craft and creativity always has a good result. And in this case the result confirms the renaissance of extreme metal.
As to the best moments of the listening experience, there are several sprinkled throughout. Like “Black Glory” and “Circle Of Eternal Becoming“, just to name a couple. In conclusion, “The Shadows’ Madame” is a decorous and noticeable album that will be warmly accepted by fans of the genre. Definitely a cult release that belongs among the best and if you like “scary” music then you are in for an enjoyable ride.
RATING: 7 / 10
“The Shadows’ Madame” – Track list:
02. Declaration of Spiritual Independence
03. In Memory of Shadows’ Madame
04. Circle of Eternal Becoming
05. The Magic Rebirth
06. Black Glory
07. Absolute Vacuum
Cadaveria – Vocals
Frank Booth – Guitars
Dick Laurent – Guitars
Killer Bob – Bass
Marçelo Santos – Drums