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Album Review: Zoya – “Songs from Isolation”

‘Songs from Isolation’ is the new solo project of Zoya Belous – singer and co-writer of Esperoza, a Dark Symphonic Extreme Metal band from Moldova. In 2020, without much activity going on in the musical front, she decided to unveil some songs she’s had sitting on a waitlist for many years, thus the birth of her own beginnings.

Zoya describes the album as not a concept but, rather a collection of songs that deserved to come to light after sitting in the shadows for so long. Released on December 15th, 2021 Zoya mixes in tracks in her Native tongue of Russian, with Romanian Poetry, and classic Christmas covers, touching it with her own unique sound and vision.

Zoya’s Gothic Opera skill rings true to her sound. Her vocal range is an elegant mix of classic Soprano highs and metal-favoured lows touched by charm. Songs like “Ce te Legeni Codrule” and “Moya Lyubov’” make you feel as if you’re front and center of the mezzanine watching your new favourite Opera unfold right before your eyes.

The beginning of “TTDSOV” seemed to hunger for greatness the moment it begins with perpetual gothic atmosphere building on darkened piano keys. Once the opera begins, an overwhelming cascade of senses drowns us in awe while the heavier metal elements chime in. The pace quickly changes to one more befitting of Black Metal with rapid drums and grinding guitars touched with signature growls and harsh vocals common to the genre. The brilliance of Zoya’s vocals is overshadowed, and for me, leaves much to be desired in the odd mix of rapid music and slower, passionate verses.

However, my feelings are short-lived when true Soprano strength is emitted in classic style beneath “Moya Lyubov’” that sets the stage, quite literally, for a favourable Opera performance that is perfectly matched with harmonious keys and well-fitted metal guitars that neither fade away nor overtake the Gothic atmosphere of this melody.

“Vesna” is heavier, bringing in true symphonic metal to the fold with a mix of light vocals and catchy riffs. There is a perfect balance of Zoya’s classical training and the heavier aspects like solid bass and speedy string work.

 

 

“Isolation”, fitting the album’s title, is a quick-hitting track filled with hammering drumbeats, delicate orchestration, and passionate chords that echo alongside Zoya’s powerful vocal capabilities. It’s an excellent combination of heavy metal and formal training that’s reminiscent of old Within Temptation tracks like “Frozen” and “Memories.”

“Ce te Legeni Codrule” is a jaw-dropping track that drops us unto a minefield of dazzling composition and refinement. There are heavy riffs, magnificent vocals, and light orchestration that bring both tone and melody together. The result is an atmospheric track that touches on the images of gothic architecture in a forgotten forest cemetery.

 

 

The covers for “Carol of the Bells” and “O Holy Night” round out this 7-track album and are wonderful revamps of classic Christmas Carols touched by darkness. The amplification of electric guitars dragging in the background are met with pulsating drums and add a layer of fright to songs commonly associated with warmth and cheer. Zoya’s vocals maintain the classic feel, while the different harmonies pull from shadow and flame to bring a bit of spice into your typical Christmas cocktail. While this album is short, it is sweet and filled with emotion and immortalized expression that can only come from individual experience. What Zoya shares with us on this 7-track album is a pouring of the heart and soul, and I’m hopeful that such eagerness continues in her future works.

Rating: 6/10
Release Date: December 15th, 2021
Label: Independent

Track Listing:
1.) TTDSOV
2.) Moya Lyubov’
3.) Vesna
4.) Isolation
5.) Ce te Legeni Codrule
6.) Carol of the Bells
7.) O Holy Night

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