Ukrainian power metal export Sunrise have always shown all the makings of a colossus on the European power metal scene. They have all the Finnish charm coupled with the Italian craftsmanship that could propel them to stardom were the genre currently not clamoring for all things nostalgic. In a year where stalwarts like Helloween aim for the roots, Sunrise keep moving in new directions. Equilibria is their fourth full length, coming half a decade after their latest album Absolute Clarity (2016). Unfortunately, it seems also that Sunrise have tossed all the material they had on here, giving the album an unwarranted hour and five minute runtime through 13 tracks with all that entails. The greater numbers get somewhat muddled by the decent ones, and even more so by the filler and the sluggish ballads. Had two or even three of the weaker tracks been cut the album could have clocked in at a more comfortable length, making it easier to digest and giving it a better flow. Placing the strongest highlight - The Bridge Across Infinity - among the filler is the biggest question mark; did they want the best song on the album to be lost?
The lengthy runtime aside, Equilibria is packed with the charming, glittery stuff that Sunrise have made themselves known for. The album has perhaps a more grounded sense to it; while the music is definitely - much like the band’s previous catalogue - upbeat, catchy and unmistakably inspired by Sonata Arctica’s poppy touches, Equilibria feels a bit more mature, while never deviating from the band’s trademark sound.Among the highlights are Life Is a Journey which sees Konstantin Naumenko in a duet alongside Mayo Petranin, whom he recently joined in Symphonity. A fairly standard build power metal banger, it brings heaps of charm and charisma, speedy guitars and a crunchy sound to round it all out, Petranin’s raspy vocals making the perfect contrast to Naumenko’s soaring, Kakko-ish voice. The aforementioned The Bridge Across Infinity is also a high mark. Released as a single prior to the albums’ release it’s the song on here that shows the most growth and moving outside the comfort zone. Closing in on progpower territory, it’s the band’s most interesting and formula bending track to date, bringing some great performances, phenomenal vocals and sweet hooks.
Through the album Konstantin Naumenko duets with keyboardist (and better half) Daria Naumenko, adding a dynamic that benefits the greater moments, while the latter also brings some sweet keyboard licks and melodic antics alongside Maksym Vityuk’s guitars. Vityuk on his end brings great riffing, sweet melodic leads in harmony with the keys; the soloing in The Bridge Across Infinity is sublime. Sunrise will probably never get their just recognition, what with the age of their Finn inspired style of europower having passed, but that hasn’t stopped the guys from unleashing a rock solid album steeped in all the quirks that make the genre great, and reveling in all the fun that brings. It’s possible thanks to the great musicianship and the grounded love for the old school style that the album works as well as it does. Equilibria is far from perfect, but still manages to be a shining spot of borealis in the dark night.
Standout tracks: Equilibrium, Life Is a Journey, The Bridge Across Infinity