REVIEWED: Aonia's 'The Seven'
Storming out of Sheffield to take on the flamboyant fantasy-verse of operatic metal, newly formed band Aonia hit like a thousand-watt surge of pure energy.
A seven-piece powerhouse that take their influence from an eclectic mix of theatrically-minded bands from Nightwish to Within Temptation, Cradle of Filth to Amon Amarth, Aonia boast a wealth of established musical talent in their mix, including a classically trained soprano. After winning the Bloodstock Metal to the Masses Sheffield competition and subsequently performing at the festival, the confidence of this seven-piece has grown in leaps and bounds; they’ve just completed their first European tour and after captivating at their live shows are releasing their debut album, 'The Seven'.
'The Seven' plunges the listener straight into a grandiose, gothic extravaganza, laced with gutsy, glass-shattering operatic vocals, breathless, heady rock guitar solos and an underlying layer of drum and bass that is the stuff of classic power ballads. Released initially as a single, 'Violet Hours' is a lavish dollop of empurpled, overblown drama, while 'Hyde and Seek' plays like a nod to classic Hammer Horror, opening with the piercing scream of a damsel in distress, and featuring Vincent Price-esque spoken lyrics and the topsy-turvy strains of a piano. 'Siren’s Lament' and 'Wake Up Lucretia' tell tales of Gothic romance that descend into dream-like lullabies, while tracks like 'Still I Rise' and 'Heartsword' sweep the listener up in a whirlwind-like clamour of vigorous riffs and forceful, fast-paced vocals, and carry them along at breakneck speed.
Aonia are highly accomplished for such a new band; however, bringing in so many influences, styles and instruments can feel a little chaotic, overwhelming and intense, and the lyrics themselves are an overload of cheese guaranteed to give you some pretty odd dreams. While they lack a bit of polish and need to work on defining their sound and cutting out some superfluous frill, their boundless enthusiasm shines through and with some practise they are sure to establish themselves as a serious presence in the world of classically-inspired metal. They’re certainly having a lot of fun, and their passion and sheer adrenaline is infectious.