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XANDRIA have returned! The most successful German goth rock act featuring a "female voice" are back with a vengeance, following the reissue of their bestseller Ravenheart. Entitled India, the recording was again produced by Jose Alvarez-Brill (Wolfsheim, among others), and even though XANDRIA aficionados are getting what they expect, some things are "different". The songwriting on India is a lot more "contemporary", the guitars, still gently emphasized on Ravenheart, have undeniably gained significance. India pushes ahead and explodes, epic bombast rock meeting metal guitars and vocalist Lisa's irresistible charm.Although the title, India, implies that what we have here is a concept album with an oriental leitmotif, this is in fact not quite the case. Basically, India is a synonym for the quest for meaning and the great aims of life, a theme which runs throughout the whole album. "As a result of his search for India, Columbus achieved something very different to what he expected," explains band founder, Marco. "That's the way things frequently are. Going through life, you have a lot of goals, and on your path to achieving these goals you encounter things that may turn out to be much more important and greater than your original goal."Next to numerous crushers like the title track India with its Nightwish leanings, or the almost frighteningly oppressive Widescreen, XANDRIA's single release In Love with the Darkness proves that they have held on to their feel for great melodies. In Love with the Darkness is an anthem for the constantly growing gothic community and impresses with catchy hooklines and a considerable amount of hit appeal. On India, the five musicians from Bielefeld rock for all they're worth, letting their bombastic sound run free and even enlisting a real string section this time around, instead of relying on taped material. Numerous string passages feature the renowned Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg, who also contributed the music to the blockbuster movie, Schindler's List, and have worked with other top acts like Rammstein and Rosenstolz.
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Even Lisa (former vocal that recorded this CD) as Krestin (nowadays) have two great voices.
They are out of print here, And I bought it along with Kill the Sun (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00008Y4RI/ref=cm_cr_rev_prod_title) - their first record.
That travesty apart, the album is an okay effort. Lisa Middlehauve (sp?) is a good singer but definitely not a great one. There also seems to be a profusion of electronics all around... I guess everyone's doing it, and so are Xandria. While quite a few of the songs are catchy in a mainstream-ish way, I strongly suspect that's due to reusing catchy riffs and melodies (a statement I'm not going to back up, look for it yourself!). I know for certain that this album has grown old on me, unlike other female-fronted albums like Within Temptation's The Silent Force or The Gathering's If_Then_Else.
On the other hand, Xandria definitely have better talent than all but a handful of gothic/symphonic/female-fronted bands out there, the production of this album is good, and the vocals and guitars are clear and not overdone. Catchy tracks include "India", "In Love With The Darkness", "The End of Every Story". The album is excellent for easy listening (even though some tracks are heavy), but I was a bit let down by the lyrics and the lack of any "concept" to the album (given two tracks had 'India' in the title, etc.). Hope they do better in their next offering!
Generally, Xandria is a good band. Good but not absolutely great. They are the newcomers in the genre, newcomers such as Midnattsol and Delain. And they have nothing on the "classic" bands, such as Nightwish or Within Temptation. Lisa, the lead singer, is a good singer generally with a good voice but displays no unique talent like Sharon of WT or Floor of After Forever.
But don't let that stop you from buying the album! The title track "India" sounds a bit Nightwish-esque in its chorus but the beginning sounds wonderful, with its Eastern mood.
Other highlights include:
Like a Rose on the Grave of Love: a beautiful sad ballad similar to that of Eversleeping (also by Xandria) but a whole lot more powerful.
End of Every Story: has a medieval tone in the beginning and in the chorus. Also great.
Black and Silver: This is the song that perhaps stood out the most, apart from India. The guitar is genius on this song and Lisa does add some variety to her singing.
Overall, a pretty good album that will definitely get more than one listen if you're into bands like Nightwish or Epica. The songs (thankfully) all sound different and the Indian tone is pretty unique but I did take one star off for Lisa's singing. She's not bad but she's not brilliant either.
Buy this album. Listen to it. It's definitely worth your money, especially if you choose this as your first Xandria album.