The Best Symphonic Metal Album - Metal Storm Awards 2016


Total votes:
688



A dramatic step in Afterlife Symphony's development, Moment Between Lives realizes everything the band has striven for up to this point: complex, emotive symphonic metal with a heavy, pointed side of progressive metal entwined with cathartic, warm melodies. Those averse to common clichés in the genre would be wise to explore the vision of rebirth and personal evolution of the band: from the swirling calmness of "Under The Sleeping Tree," to the addictive opening of "Dreamer's Paradox," Moments Between Lives pulls us worlds away from the typical symphonic band, and asks us to travel with it on a journey of unburdened, newfound love of our own existence.

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The second release in two years for Beyond The Black offers proof that the music centered around vocalist Jennifer Haben was no fluke. The catchy, addictive "Lost In Forever" will have any fan of soaring, rock-based symphonic songs immediately hooked. From the rousing "Halo Of The Dark" to the excellent "Beyond The Mirror," and with the recent international re-release of the album, Beyond The Black have the ideal template for memorable live performances with Lost In Forever.

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Theatrical and full of wonder, Dark Sarah's The Puzzle picks up the story from their previous album, here following the protagonist through her trials out of an island purgatory, finding new paths within her own imagination, and facing her inner truths. Lyricist and singer Heidi Parviainen surrounds herself with guests such as Manuela Kraller, Charlotte Wessels, and, in "Dance With The Dragon," the masterful JP Leppäluoto (as the dragon), who complements Heidi in one of the most memorable duets in symphonic metal. So let the depth of the ocean take you down, through Dark Sarah's conceptual journey, and may the ferryman await you beneath the healing rain at your quest's end!

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Delain are true to themselves in Moonbathers. The Dutch band has evolved significantly over time but its essence remains the same. Strong orchestrations, compelling guitar grooves, and the irresistible voice of Charlotte Wessels. All of these ingredients are perfectly balanced in Moonbathers, which is the ideal way to cap 10 years as a band and establish themselves as one of the reigning kings of symphonic metal.

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Diabulus In Musica are no strangers to a grandiose production, and Dirge For The Archons traverses symphonic metal soundscapes with all the band's hallmarks in place. An assertive turn in "Earthly Illusions," the exuberant "Ring Around Dark Fairies Carousel," and the inner turmoil of being unseen in lead single "Invisible" all reaffirm Diabulus In Musica's expertise. With Zuberoa Aznárez's continued honing of her sultry, yearning vocals that shine through on ballads like "Bane," a heavy dose of choirs, and longtime keyboardist Gorka Elso and his growls, the band offers symphonic fans a sprawling album of maturity.

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With a seamless mix of symphonic arrangements, operatic vocals, and a foundation of progressive guitarwork and atmospheres, Emphasis creates a world all its own on Revival. From the instantly catchy "Running Man" to the expansive, passionate "Death Itself," Emphasis reaches deep into the pains of not only the individual, but of humanity's pain itself, to create a profoundly cerebral album that leaves one questioning mankind's fragility, all while reminding us of the peaceful moment each new dawn brings to us.

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Epica needs no introduction as they've been a permanent fixture of our Awards for a long while. It's only our journalistic pride which prevents us from copy and pasting past descriptions of the band in here and slapping on adjectives such as "better" and "greater" here and there, yet the fact is Epica has placed itself firmly among the upper echelon of symphonic metal bands over the years. The Holographic Principle, a jaw-dropping and off-the-charts album in terms of scale and heaviness only further cements their status of supremacy and the challenge for the entire scene to keep up.

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A bittersweet eulogy for the silence that inevitably takes us all, Ravenia's Beyond The Walls Of Death is like a symphonic film score to remember all those who've fought for us over the battles of time. From the epic "We All Died For Honor" to the dramatic "There Is But One Path," Armi Päivinen's vocals surround one in a lush, timeless warmth that is both calming and inspiring. With a repertoire of string instruments such as the violin, viola, cello, and contrabass, Ravenia's somber melodies offer nearly an hour of contemplative music, like standing in solitude on the ocean's edge, only to feel the presence of past loved ones beside us.

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The talents of a vocalist can make or break a band, and it's nice to hear someone with a distinct and adaptable persona in what can sometimes be a mire of soundalikes; Serenity has a good thing going with its solid, weighty presence and impactful vocals. Serenity isn't above the standard sort of over-dramatic bombast that pops up in a few too many genres, but with such strong performances and a heroic, mighty spirit common to so many power metal bands, it's impossible to begrudge Codex Atlanticus any of its indulgences.

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The venerable and prolific Sirenia return just a year later with not only a new vocalist, but more of their trademark catchy, melancholic melodies. Emmanuelle Zoldan's skills behind the mic add a newfound layer of depth and operatics, while mastermind Morten Veland never lets up with his symphonic and gothic vision. From the lush keys and guitarwork of "Goddess Of The Sea" to the passionate title track and accompanying video, to more diverse tracks like "Fifth Column," Dim Days Of Dolor showcases a perfected sound that is uniquely, identifiably: Sirenia.

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