Review Date: 2012-03-16
Reviewed By: Fred Bteich
This band's history goes back way behind in time, to 1994 when it blossomed in Germany desperately trying to burst to the metal scene, but to no avail. Not until 2000, when a radical change of line-up with especially a certain Lisa Middelhauve on vocals and a switch to a symphonic path, gave XANDRIA something to work with.
Experimenting for many years and progressively finding their identity, they started attracting the lights mostly with their 2004 release RAVENHEART followed by their best opus till 2011, INDIA in 2005.
Just when it seemed everything was coming together, a shocking decision by the vocalist to leave the band left the other members forlorn. The quest to find a replacement with her abilities was tough and the struggle was evident with the attempt to join a certain Kerstin Bischof in 2009, who barely lasted one year without even being able to release an album with XANDRIA.
The band went into a comatose state again, for a couple of years, working hardly in the shade but at the same time losing everything they had been able to accomplish throughout the past decade. Worrying times were ahead, but fans never lost hope and they got rewarded for their patience in a way nobody could have ever expected.
Manuela Kraller was to be XANDRIA's new vocalist in an announcement made on the band's website in late 2010. This promised big time, since she was a soprano vocalist for HAGGARD between 2005 and 2010.
XANDRIA kept working secretly after that, never giving a glimpse of her voice nor a slight info about the new album in the making. Until 2011 came, when everything unfolded.
NEVERWORLD'S END was to be the comeback opus, the first with Manuela on vocals and boy the band has enormously delivered. Stunning the scene with the music video of the single "Valentine" cleverly released, understandably so, on Februrary 14, 2012, fans were left delighted, contenders scratching their heads in surprise.
February 22, 2012 was to be the release date of the anxiously awaited album, after previews and songs' excerpts over the net fascinated even more.
That day came, and XANDRIA had undoubtedly made it. 5 years after their last release, spinning 71 minutes couldn't have been any more delightful.
Not a single track of the 12 featured alongside 2 bonus tracks, is identical to one another.
Fresh, dynamic and varied, those are the words that come to my mind when thinking about the album. The guitar riffs are huge, the vocals couldn't have fit the music any better and NEVERWORLD'S END is so well-constructed that it is pretty hard to get bored or find some bad lyrics tackled.
With the faltering of their contenders, XANDRIA have definitely delivered the best opus of the year, and after EPICA's disappointing album, I pretty much doubt somebody would beat that record.
Many fans were exalted and jubilant, non-fans easily getting hooked and thanking the band for giving them such a jewel, reminiscent of NIGHTWISH's old works, especially when it comes to the vocals. Manuela has hit Tarja's standards, and XANDRIA some old classics.
Who cares if the band have taken NIGHTWISH's identity, if the latter have already switched to another one?
XANDRIA aren't here to sell, to play for the sake of getting new fans, but rather they have earned them and deservedly so and it can be well and truly said they are to be considered from now on a major threat in the genre, and undoubtedly one of its leading acts.
For every Symphonic Metal fan, if you don't know about this band, it's time you do so, and if you're a fan of CENTURY CHILD or ONCE, you might get your salvation for what should have been the perfect NIGHTWISH album after those two, surprinsingly enough, coming from XANDRIA.
GRAB YOUR COPIES NOW!