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Album Review: Apolinara – “Shadows and Signs”

Professionally trained singer/songwriter, and piano player Apolinara took destiny into her own hands and created “Shadows and Signs” to write the music she loves. By creating a fully immersive atmosphere of Symphonic Gothic Metal she fills her album with what she calls a ‘thrilling odyssey’ that ventures into the realms of dark emotions battling for balance with the light.

Our symphonic journey begins with the song, “Wonderful” that starts with a familiar melody that reminds me of “Under the Sign of the Black Star” by Elvenking but, is lighter and more symphonic in feel. Apolinara’s vocals are delicate and almost faint against the music making me wish she was louder or more pronounced in her lyrical confessions.

“You Can’t Get Away With This” is a hard-hitter where Apolinara’s lyrics and vocals are more prominent in hopes of conveying the emotion that dwells deep within. Piano keys offer an eerie aura, giving a layer of pain to an already passionate track about moving forward whilst still harbouring fragments of resentment. Vocal highs are dazzling in this track with Apolinara really taking to hear her songwriting creation and putting up a flawless display of emotion. Tack on an epic guitar solo and this track is one to blow you away.

The third track, “Dragon Dance” is very trance-like in its introduction as if stars were falling against a glass black sky. The orchestration of this piece is beyond masterful in class and finesse that forms an astonishing melody against Apolinara’s wondrous vocals. Easily my favourite from the album based on the melody alone but, Apolinara’s vocals add to the fire that is this beautiful song.

The song, “Slowly”, that also has an acoustic feature later on the album, is a luminous creation of violins and cello against a metal curtain of roaring drums and steady, fluid guitars. Apolinara offers a lighter touch to her vocal range in this track whilst still establishing strength in the notes she holds. This track is like a dance in a gentle rain with musical notes that caress and solos that ascend you to another plane.

“The Smile of a Demon” is a track of pure thunder and potency that starts off by unleashing hellfire upon us. Delicate keys balance against the heavy melody to fully encompass the idea of a Demon’s grin being so enticing. The relentless double-kicker against Apolinara’s siren call are a true battle to maintain the balance of light and dark that are on prominent display. Velvety guitar solos add a power metal feel and stand out against the steady tune resulting in a memorable track that far exceeds expectations.

“No More” is a pure metal ballad of epic proportion. This track does well as a foundation for this album choosing to lay low and rest its passion on glittery piano work and Apolinara’s songwriting talent. Lyrics like “embrace who you love,” linger on our own lips as the angelic sound lures us through this track’s entirety.

The title track, “Shadows and Signs” off this album is filled with gnarly riffs, delicate piano, and fantastical choir that sends a chill down your spine. It’s a ferocious drop from what much of the album has offered thus far and stands for its title as the epitome of power. Apolinara’s vocals are reminiscent of Tarja Turunen’s “Paradise (What About Us?)” with Within Temptation offering us a full range of Opera in its feel but, keeping the metal foundations at its core. The intricacy of instrumentals on this track are worthy of tears with the elegance balance of ruthlessness and fragility battling toward a bloody victory.

 

 

“Tears of Love” – if you’d hoped for a Power Metal ballad like a memory of “November Rain” this track is right up your alley. Light and airy vocals command the pacing of this track while the gentle pluck of guitar strings echo in the background. Pianos offer a glimmer of classical sound to a track that quickly becomes as passionate as its creator.

To close the album, we take a gentle turn to “We Had It All” that’s filled with heartache and turmoil. It’s elegant and symphonically radiant with the feel of pianos on a candlelit crimson stage. This track marks the end for our phantom fears and the thoughts that plague us, and the beginning of our rebirth.

Overall, this album is enjoyable, starting off a bit on the weak side but building in emotion and complexity as we journey onward. I can only hope that Apolinara’s passion and songwriting prowess continue onto her next album where she once again brings the fire that dwells deep within.

Favourite tracks: Dragon Dance, Shadows and Signs

Rating: 8/10
Release Date: February 22nd, 2022.
Label: Independent
Track Listing:
1.) Introduction
2.) Wonderful
3.) You Can’t Get Away With This
4.) Dragon Dance
5.) Slowly
6.) The Smile of a Demon
7.) No More
8.) Shadows and Signs
9.) Tears of Love
10.) Slowly (acoustic version)
11.) We Had It All

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