Review: Visionatica – Enigma Fire

Visionatica is a relatively unknown player in the female-fronted symphonic metal genre hailing from Nürnberg, Germany. Being formed in 2013 the line-up has been quite consistent with Tamara Amedov as vocalist, Manuel Buhl on guitar, Gerhard Spanner on drums and Tim Zahn on bass. Though well after the initial madness around female fronted symphonic metal hype, they nevertheless deliberately faced the quite difficult task of establishing themselves in a closed, at that time pretty overfed corner of metal. After a few years of radio silence the band, evolving around ‘singing wolf’ Tamara, officially presented itself when its first feat of arms, a single called She Wolf, was released in 2015, followed by their debut full-length called Force of Luna the year after. It was received with mixed critics due to its supposed lack of originality, something that has been an issue with many bands operating in the small, tightly bordered corner of the music world known as female fronted symphonic metal and whose inhabitants allow very little room for manoeuvre. Nevertheless they persisted, resulting in the release of their second full-length last month. It’s called Enigma Fire and it offers nine songs stretching only a little under forty minutes of music. Having heard Force of Luna before I’m curious to find out if their persistence was worth it and payed off.

Opener and intro Amari Sudbina Kali has a nice atmosphere to it, with a little Eastern touch, something that proves to be a recurring thing throughout this release, but it in fact makes me none the wiser as to what this album will be all about. The Pharao, next in line, does a better job here, leaving no doubt that Visionatica remained true to their preferred genre. And yet, though most definitely not a novelty, the very subtle Eastern influences add some variation that distinguishes Visionatica’s music to some extent from the vast majority that plays the ‘traditional’ music in their genre. Fear pretty much taps the same vain, except for the fact that the Eastern influences are completely absent here. The guitars growl and howl, the bass humms, the drums break the rhythm, the vocals are high pitched, bordering forced at times and all this is merged into a bombastic whole. All the ingredients are there. If ever there would be a competition to find a true female fronted symphonic metal song, this song would definitely be a contender. Next up is Roxana, The Great, a rather powerful song, one of the highlights of the album, next to To the Fallen Roma and Secrets of the Ancestors, in between which the inevitable ballad Incomplete offers a moment of rest. Album closer Rise from the Ashes packs all of the above into one song, ending this album in style.

There’s really no two ways about this: Visionatica plays female fronted symphonic metal, plain and simple. Where bands from other genres might stray from their original paths to explore other influences every now and then, this is usually not the case with bands operating in this genre. Visionatica’s Enigma Fire is no exception to this unwritten rule. As a matter of fact, you get exactly that what you asked for when you picked this release: solid symphonic metal. However, that sounds more harsh towards Visionatica than is actually fair, they deserve a bit more credit. So let me nuance it a bit here: In my opinion there is absolutely nothing wrong with solid symphonic metal and, with thanks to the subtle yet distinct Eastern vibe, the kind Visionatica plays I like even better. No, their music is not innovative and no, they do not stray far from their path. Yes, their music is bombastic to the core, yes, the songs are composed following a predictable blueprint which have distinct likeness to those of the big guns in the genre such as Epica and yes, even the mandatory ballad is present. But who cares? The songs are solidly composed, well-executed pieces of work and, let’s not beat around the bush, if you weren’t looking for symphonic metal in the first place, you had no reason to put this on anyway. So nothing to complain about, music can be very pleasant to listen to even without groundbreaking innovative features, which is proven by Enigma Fire. It’s my job to analyze, all you need to do is just enjoy these tunes without prejudice and I’m sure you’ll have a good time.

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