Gathering musicians from various death, black and thrash metal bands (the most eye catching being the colorfully named Anal Vomit), Crownless ventures into a wholly different territory. At first glance Crownless would appear to be Italian by judging from the sound, but from a time when Italian metal still had a certain freshness about it. Instead, these guys come from the Peruvian capital, and with their debut album Confines Of Silence, they bring a sweet exploration into the realms of the symphonic. It is a fresh blend of Nightwish and old school Rhapsody, sprinkled with touches of the old Dark Moor and the likes. Folksier notes are brought about in Legions Of Him while dramatic The Unloved go all out on theatrics. The album is ambitious, but not prone to grandstanding, showcasing a stripped down sound less reliant on big choirs and massive symphonic backdrops - though they are present of course - and more on beautiful, soaring melodies and musicianship, which works in Crownless’s favor.
Vocalist MariVe Iglesias brings just that right amount of over the top operatics while mostly sticking to a light and airy mid range. The contrasts therein make those Turunen inspired moments all the more powerful, unlike on their 2015 EP Sigillum, where they were used less sparingly and it just didn’t sound that good (though to be fair the production and mix on that EP was miles below what’s shown here). The vocal melodies are catchy and cheesy in the right amount, and Iglesias brings about a majestic sound in the high notes and emotional tinges when needed. The production suffers slightly due to a lack of dynamics; the bass is virtually absent, and only makes slight forays to make itself heard. Guitarist Pedro ‘Nekrogore’ Bernales lays down a few toxic solos and lead guitar parts to battle the keys which also would deserve to sit a little higher in the mix to show off the skills. The battling between the two in tracks like Sailing The Dark is phenomenal, and the song itself a high mark on the album, sounding like something Nightwish could have put out a few years back.
It won’t be revolutionizing symphonic metal by any means, but the album and the band’s style and direction is just so uplifting that it’s hard not be drawn along for the ride. The songs are rather short affairs, most clocking in around the four minute stretch, leaving the total runtime at slightly under 40 minutes, a few of which are filler material that doesn’t reach the standards of the higher points; so Confines Of Silence is by no means the perfect debut album, let alone a perfect album. Perhaps instead of Standing On - the blandest track on here - they could have redone another track from Sigillum (Sailing The Dark is the one they did), but as it is, the tracklist is decent at least, and in most senses outshines the aforementioned EP. It has its slight flaws and misses, but it leaves lots of taste for what else this Peruvian outfit might come up with in the years to come, and it does so while delivering plenty of substance in a relatively short time and with heaps of passion for the trade. And on the whole Confines Of Silence is a highly enjoyable little love affair with a sound that was thought foregone.
Standout tracks: Feathers In Flames, Contestatory, Sailing The Dark