Sinister Grace – Ex Cathedra

I have, well, not really a soft spot, but a less-hard-spot in my heart for symphonic heavy metal bands. I find stuff like Sonata Arctica and Stratovarious pretty delicious, and I won’t complain if you put Nightwish or Therion on. Granted, I’m never going to say that it’s going to match up to ‘Transilvanian Hunger’ or anything, but I’ll admit to getting unusually enamored with it from time to time. “Dancing on the path and singing now you got-” okay I’ll stop.

So, in this vein comes Sinister Grace, as symphonic heavy/gothic metal band from Arizona. The music on this half-hour EP could be described well as a blend of Nightwish and Therion, albeit with less painfully hook-based song structures. Strangely enough, only some traces of power metal are present: the base of this is fairly traditional in nature. Production is very clear and generally well balanced, but the guitars do tend to get buried under the swells of keyboards.

On an instrumental front, all members perform capably in their respective capacities. The music is consistently propulsive and and firm in its delivery, and would likely appeal to a wide range of listeners. Flaws: the instruments do not mesh all the way through, particularly in the vocal department, which through its emulation of Tarja-style operatics seems to lose sight of what the music is all about on occasion, frequently due to not harmonizing properly. Also, like many young bands, Sinister Grace sometimes has trouble properly connecting musical movements together, occasionally forcing themselves to resort to an awkward fill.

Overall, though, ‘Ex Cathedra’ is a respectable entry to the metal field, and one that will improve with simply more time and practice. Give it a go if you’re into the symph-metal scene.

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~ by noktorn on March 2, 2007.

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