(By Kira Schlechter, Guest Contributor/Writer, RiffRelevant.com)
Four singers – Amanda Somerville (Avantasia, Trillium, Kiske-Somerville), Clementine Develay-Thieux (Visions Of Atlantis), Marina La Torraca (Avantasia, Phantom Elite), and Anna Brunner, an aspiring young singer – are all established vocalists.
Each either is or has contributed to various bands and projects over the years – and now they have joined forces as Exit Eden to release “Rhapsodies In Black,” (out now from Napalm Records). It is a collection of metallicized covers of pop hits. Hey, metal has done everything else, so why not this?
The women’s voices are distinctive: one has a highly trained, Tarja Turunen-type rich soprano, one a gritty rasp, one a light and airy lilt, the last a fairly straightforward hard rock belt. They solo or blend in different combinations throughout the tracks, and they all blend beautifully.
The tracks work with varying levels of success. Adele’s “Skyfall” should have started as a metal track in the first place – it’s perfect. Rihanna’s “Unfaithful” is dark and ominous. The Backstreet Boys’ “Incomplete” gets a bit of a Celtic flavor, all to great effect.
The Depeche Mode cover of “Question Of Time” is an especially good choice, considering Depeche has always had a power metal-like sense of drama, at least to my ears. “Impossible,” the Shontelle hit from a few years ago, gets a stately, march-like tempo, turning it from lightweight pop to majestic metal with ease. Madonna’s “Frozen” is also dead-on, the orchestral backing tracks melding with a potent groove and blazing guitars.
But Gaga’s “Paparazzi” might be the best of all. The bridge gets a near death-metal treatment (no joke), and the different voices placed into the verses and choruses are somehow exactly how they should be — the correct voices sing the correct lines (how that was worked out, I’d love to know).
I could have done without the cover of Bryan Adams’ “Heaven,” though – it’s kind of bombastic to begin with and the extra bombast and operatic vocals make it just about unbearable. Katy Perry’s “Firework” was kind of obvious and seems a little unnecessary – it wasn’t as much of a surprise as most of the other tracks. And of course, “Rhapsody” almost had to include “Total Eclipse Of The Heart,” didn’t it, and it does – also unnecessary, but a blast nonetheless.
None of any of this should work, dammit! But overall it does, in some weird, planets-aligning, meant-to-be way. Guess it proves anew the adaptability of metal, that it can fold and align and bend itself to fit into any other genre.
Here’s hoping, though, that Exit Eden isn’t a one-trick gimmick and perhaps does an album of original tracks down the line.
*Kira spent 11 years at the Associated Press in Philadelphia, and another 11 at the Harrisburg Patriot-News covering music, specifically and frequently heavy metal. She’s been writing about and listening to metal since she was 15. Currently she also freelances for the Reading Eagle newspaper; in the past, she has freelanced for RIP, The World Of Hibernia, and Mademoiselle.