The French symphonic metal band Whyzdom has released their fifth studio album on September 17. The new work bears the promising title „Of Wonders and Wars“ and contains 10 new songs (playing time 59 minutes).
The Paris-located project was founded by the guitarist and orchestrator Vynce Leff in early 2007. Moreover, Marie Mac Leod (lead vocals), Régis Morin (guitar) and Nicolas Chaumeaux (drums) belong to today’s lineup. Their classical influences are ranging from the romantic to the contemporary period. Marie Mac Leod, who joined Whyzdom in 2013, is a classically trained mezzo-soprano: „I wanted her to sing almost only with her rock voice when she joined the band. But lately, we worked quite a lot together, and I realized I enjoyed her lyrical voice even more“, Vynce explains to Metal Goddesses. To say it in advance: In the higher ranges Marie sounds suspiciously intense like Tarja Turunen, but without copying her. In some places I like her deeper rock voice a bit better, but more on that later.
The first eye-catcher is definitely the cover artwork. Pyramids and ancient Egypt have been optically thematized countless times in the metal genre (just take a look at Maiden’s legendary „Powerslave“ or also Gamma Ray), but here I particularly love the dark colored visual presentation. For that reason alone I could give rating points, but the big points are still to come.
The album is shaped by an atmosphere of historical epochs and places („Stonehenge“, „Pyramids“, „Notre Dame“, „Metropolis Lights“). Musically, this is impressively accompanied by a rich orchestration, a strong, variable voice and epic, melodic hymns that get under your skin. I couldn’t hear any noteworthy weak points, the skip button on my music system remained untouched.
The melodic and charismatic opener „Wanderers and Dreamers“, which is characterized by Marie’s very high voice, shows where the journey is leading, namely into a bombastic musical firework. This direction is continued with „Child of Damnation“, adding powerful riffs and great choirs. „Stonehenge“ is another hymn that excites. Marie’s deep voice in the verses and her operatic singing in the chorus give me goosebumps. „Ariadne“ is the longest song at seven and a half minutes. What a musically precisely arranged epic! It doesn’t bother at all that Marie sounds like Tarja in places. Here, I also like her voice best in the lower ranges. The song is garnished with stunning choirs and well done guitar solos. Of course, there is also a nice ballad to be found: „Touch the Sky“ once again shows Marie’s variable vocal skills. The string arrangements, the double guitar runs and the sensitive end of the song are also worth listening to. For me it’s one of the album’s highlights.
The martial „War“ and the catchy „Metropolis Lights“ are also recommended, before it comes to „Pyramids“, the next awesome hymn. If you don’t believe it, listen to it at 03:52, it’s really breathtakingly catchy and epic. I guess the song is conceived as an hommage to the pyramids („Pyramids of stone, will you stand proud until the end of time?“). I also love the oriental flair of the song, but there are so many reasons to call the song the best on the album. The next epic hommage is the finisher „Notre Dame“. Also here, the whole package is matching: Marie reveals everything she has to offer, and that is not a small amount. „When my heart was lost in the night I used to turn to Notre Dame.“ Those are lyrics that could melt you away, especially with the right musical accompaniment and the church bells with which the song ends. There is hardly a better way to do it.
In my humble opinion, Whyzdom have created an outstanding symphonic metal album that is bursting with bombastic and densely orchestrated hymns. Maybe an album title like „Hymns of Wonders and Wars“ might have been more appropriate. In addition, there is a flawless, massive production that has given the finishing touches to an awesome musical adventure. And a special word about Marie: She appears to be an incredibly talented and versatile singer who, in my opinion, can compete with greats like Tarja, Simone Simons or Dianne van Giersbergen. It is also noticeable that the bass guitar doesn’t drown in such a densely staged musical production. Another praise goes to the songwriters (mainly Vynce Leff): Remarkable lyrics were written with great creativity and enthusiasm.
It shouldn’t be Whyzdom’s problem, but I honestly think it’s a pity that Nightwish can’t seem to create any albums of the quality of Whyzdom’s new stuff anymore. But that’s just my very personal opinion. And yes – that’s seldom enough – for „Of Wonders and Wars“ I give a whopping 10 points for perhaps the best symphonic metal album that I listened to lately. Chapeau!
- Wanderers and Dreamers
- Child of Damnation
- Touch the Sky
- Metropolis Lights
- The Final Collapse
- Notre Dame