CD Reviews

Asylum Pyre - 'Spirited Away' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     February 16, 2016    
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Highly recommended for Metalheads old and young.

'Spirited Away' is the third album by Female-Fronted, French Melodic Metal band Asylum Pyre. Like 2012's 'Fifty Years Later', it's been recorded and mixed by Didier Chesneau (who also contributes additional guitar) and mastered by Bruno Gruel. The result is a high-quality, strong sounding album that's heavy on feel and atmosphere and is sensitive to the soul of the band.

I tend to approach Female-Fronted Metal bands with caution – it's a congested field, after all – but '...Away' is proof positive that Asylum Pyre have a sound that's all their own. This is where Symphonic Rock meets Electro, with strong guitars, melodic hooks, English words and French accents.
'Second Shadow' sets the scene well, opening to dramatic effect with imaginative and emotive use of vocal sound effects, a clear production, strong guitar and melodic chorus. One senses a tight knit and cohesive band, and, indeed, there is a strong band performance throughout. This is typified, perhaps, on 'The Silence of Dreams' – a killer track that features a punchy, heavy riff, striking Psychedelic keyboards (courtesy of Armendar) a great mix of impassioned vocals, growled and clear – male (Johann Cadot) and female (Chaos Heidi) – a furious blitz of a guitar solo (Cadot) and cool bass and drums (courtesy of Cristophe Babin and Vince Kreyder).

The theme is said to be "the human spirit and its twists and turns", with male and female vocals mixed to add layers and dimensions. This is nowhere better exemplified than on 'Soulburst', which at almost eight minutes is the album's longest track. Slow piano intro and gentle male vocal lull the listener into a false sense of security before it explodes unexpectedly blending Thrashy growling sections with near Enya-like calm and majestic Metal choruses a touch reminiscent of The Reasoning at their compelling best. It's a curious mix that may not be to everyone's taste but which gives the band's music a unique vibe.

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Every track here has something to offer. The album builds in intensity as it progresses, peaking with the drama of 'At My Door', with its tortured male vocal, and the vibrato Electro intro of 'Shivers' that's striking for its onomatopoeic cleverness. Always, though, even when this album is at its heaviest and most intense, there is a melodic chorus. 'Instants In Time' is lighter but maintains the vibe as it eases us, via the silence of 'Remembering', into the slower and more melancholic closer 'Fly', a track that indulges a side of their music that will appeal to Modern Prog as well as Metal fans.

'Spirited Away' is by far the strongest album I've reviewed for this issue*. It's well-constructed, varied, powerful, passionate and distinctive. Highly recommended for Metalheads old and young.

Michael Anthony

(* this review is from Fireworks Magazine #73)

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