Sinister Grace - Ex Cathedra review
|Release date:||November 2006|
02. On The Moor
03. Scarlet Winter
05. Beren's Journey [bonus]
06. Dark Night Of The Soul [bonus]
2006 - Self-produced - USA
Running time: 27:35
Sinister Grace could be seen as another attempt at mixing the fury of metal music with the delicacy of female vocals. Yet, without being extreme, their music care about remaining dynamic, which explains that at some point, it was referred to as a symphonic thrash band. The terms Heavy, Power and Gothic can also be coined to a certain extent.
Let me be clear right from the start, the biggest problem on this demo is the production. It's ok, very listenable, but unfortunately it doesn't serve the music. For example, the keyboards are generally too loud even when they are only meant as a background filling sound. This affects the guitars, making them sound less powerful and effective. The cymbals are also put forward too much in my opinion.
Of course, Ex Cathedra is a self-produced demo, so all those production details are inevitable. It's sad that they hinder the band's true potential.
Now, back to the music. The first four tracks are the actual band recordings, the two bonus tracks having been recorded by guitarist Josh Kramer at different times, with different means. Those two tracks are instrumental, and a lot more influenced by classical music. The band's songs are all composed so that they never get boring, despite using a quite well-known structure: intro - verses and choruses - break and solos - verses and choruses - outro. Hopefully, all those parts are very enjoyable and feature some very good power/thrash riffs and solos. The vocals, on the other hand, are pretty disturbing. Emily Gomes' voice sounds as it if is constantly doubled, which gives it a unique touch, but you may need a certain amount of time to really adapt to this characteristic. That may be the reason why I sometimes have the feeling the voice is not exactly in tune with the other instruments. I also think the vocals could benefit from the inclusion of more "intimate" passages which wouldn't require having an operatic feel to it - for instance, the final word of the song Hemlock, "die", is very effective despite being simply pronounced and not sung.
I cannot really pick a favorite song as I enjoy all of them except On The Moor (despite the use of strings), which I find less captivating. I particularly crave for those furious moments like the outro of Hemlock or the more magical passages you can find on the choruses of Sanctuary with those keyboard/guitar duets.
All in all, this demo clearly demonstrates that Sinister Grace has something good to offer, something lively that is pleasant to listen to and that can make you headbang at the same time. They may need to improve a few things but they're on the good way, they have the talent required to step out of the multitude of female fronted bands. If only the production was better... It doesn't do them justice.
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