Victoria K – Vocals
Sheri Vengeance – Extreme vocals
Julia Mammone – Guitars
Brett Garsed – Guitars
Martin Kawaler – Bass
Rich Panaia – Bass
Chris Rourke – Bass (“Lacuna”)
James Davies – Drums
Gerry Pantazis – Drums
Lee Bradshaw – Keys, piano, synth and sound design
Michalina Malisz – Hurdy gurdy (“Shroud of Solitude”)
Orchestra – Budapest Scoring Orchestra, conducted by Zoltán Pad
Orchestra engineered by Dénes Rédly
Orchestral contractor – Bálint Sapszon
1.) Freedom Uncharted (feat. Sheri Vengeance)
3.) Forsaken (feat. Sheri Vengeance)
4.) Matrix (feat. Sheri Vengeance)
5.) Shroud of Solitude (feat. Michalina Malisz – Eluveitie)
6.) The Haunting
8.) Mist Filled Sky
Previously known for her metal covers online (including Metallica, Nightwish and Iron Maiden), and fresh from touring with Eluveitie last year, Australian singer-songwriter Victoria K has now released her debut full-length album, Essentia. She had this to say about the release:
“I really hope that when our fans and new listeners hear the album they can all find something that they connect with on a deeper level. Whether that connection is found from within the music itself or from specific lyrics, I really hope they find something familiar, which can connect them to some experience they have had, invoking memories and feelings, eliciting an emotional response.”
Certainly a positive sentiment. It’s an album that very much wears its influences on its sleeve: Evanescence, Nightwish, Lacuna Coil, Within Temptation. Modern symphonic metal/rock, dominated by soaring, operatic vocals. Some little dashes of more accessible melodeath here and there, particularly in the tracks featuring Sherri Vengeance (more on those later).
Unfortunately, it’s an album so rooted in the typical tropes of that style that it seems not to know how to be anything else. The music as a whole is very predictable, and while Victoria’s vocals are genuinely impressive, they’re used in a way that ultimately feels derivative, while every other aspect of the music feels dulled and muted to make way for them. Yes, the vocals often are and should be at the forefront of this particular style, but they’re still just part of a greater whole, and here that whole is lacking.
The drums in particular are painfully weak. They’re lively, often shifting techniques and tempos, but never carrying any real force. They click and tap when they should be crashing and pounding. The guitars have a little more force behind them, but still fail to catch the listener’s attention. On a few tracks we get some additional vocals from Sherri Vengeance, who adds a nice bit of force with her harsher vox, but they don’t function properly when they feel so isolated from the rest of the music. When those snarls come out of nowhere without the right instrumentation to back them up, they just feel out of place, like a single ingredient of a recipe: without the rest, it doesn’t work.
There is the occasional bright spot, with “Freaks” benefiting from a bit more life and energy in its orchestral sounds, and “Matrix” does have some more fleshed out instrumentation, but it’s also one of the worst offenders for the out of place harsher vocals mentioned above.
If you’re a big fan of this particular style, you might find something to enjoy here. But even then, there are simply better albums out there already. Victoria K has some definite talent, but needs a more developed sound and song-writing to stand out. Her covers illustrate how good she can sound with the right music around her.