I have been a slow convert to gothic metal. When I used to hear the word goth, I couldn't help but imagine the Marilyn Manson/Hot Topic teens hanging out at the mall. Or from way back in my youth, the girls that listened to The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and The Smiths begging for change at the bus stop in front of an urban McDonald's. Not that there is anything wrong with The Cure and The Smiths, but over the past several years my impression of goth music has changed greatly. H.I.M, Nightwish, and Within Temptation have made a huge impression on me. Imperia is a band out of the Netherlands that is indeed worth mentioning.
Imperia has just released their third full length CD, Secret Passion. This is my first exposure to the band, and after listening to Secret Passion, I am going to have to acquire the rest of the music in their catalogue. When the music started, I made an immediate comparison to fellow countrymen After Forever and their former singer Floor Jansen. I can also hear similarities to Elis, and the less operatically styled songs of Tarja-era Nightwish.
Imperia plays a style of music that is both haunting and soothing at the same time. The sense of the forlorn is quite strong and it strikes a chord deep within me. The vocals on Secret Passion are quite excellent. Helena Michaelsen delivers a great performance overall, but really showcases her abilities on "Fragile". One of my favorite songs on the CD, her voice assumes different characteristics and makes "Fragile" sound just that. The guitars and rhythm section are really solid, and if they were to stand alone they'd be very metal, but when the keyboard and orchestration is added, everything transforms into a beautiful gothic soundscape. Other songs not to be overlooked include the opener (and very Nightwish-like) "Touch of Your Hand" and "Out of Sight", which showcases a very tasty guitar solo. The bonus track "Mistress" is good as a little piece of techno pop but is a little out of place against the heavy symphonic goth. This makes me think of Theatre of Tragedy or Liv Kristine's solo material.
I'd like to hear a few more guitar solos, but that aside, Secret Passion is a great CD. It hits my melancholic side in ways that I find reassuring (if that is possible). Imperia does a great job on Secret Passion, and it is a worthy investment.
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Live Long and Rock Hard,
SpaceKev's Rating: 8 out of 10