Despite them being around for over a decade up until today I have never had the pleasure to get acquainted with the Athens, Greece based symphonic metal band Fallen Arise. There’s a few reasons for this, with the most influential one being the fact there’s simply way too many bands to keep track of every single band in existence. Other than that around the time this band came to life there were a gazillion other bands emerging from all over the planet in this specific genre, all hoping to follow the path of the then big symphonic metal bands like Nightwish, Epica, Within Temptation and so on. Apparently Fallen Arise failed to do so, but I for one am convinced that that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, in my experience the best albums are almost always the hidden gems from the less famous, as if they put more effort in it, which is not essentially untrue if you ask me. Anyway, before we find out if this theory applies to Fallen Arise’s latest release Enigma allow me to introduce the band to you. Formed in 2009 by Gus Dibelas the band has seen its lineup changes over the years, leading to their current lineup, a sextet consisting of Fiona Creaby and Vlassis K. as vocalists, Gus Dibelas on keys, Giacomo Paradiso as guitarist, Paul Kull Culley as bassist and Marios K. as drummer. This vast amount of changes in personnel undoubtedly has something to do with the fact their list of releases is relatively short, only containing an EP and two full-lengths so far, the latest of which, a full-length called Adeline, dates back to 2015. Even though I can take a pretty well-founded guess I’m not sure whether they despise their old work or love it so much they know they’ll never equal it, but in any case, according to their press sheet, their new release supposedly sounds in no way like any of it. This sounds like a challenge, so I gave their previous releases a spin as well and I’m pretty sure which of the two options is the right one. Not going to give it away, though, you’ll have to listen and decide for yourself, although you might find it easy enough to figure out when you read my entire review. Anyway, back to Enigma.
It opens as one would expect from a symphonic metal band, with a rather bombastic intro complete with choral arrangements and provoking key work leading you straight into the title song. Enigma is a song that at the start has some strong resemblances with Within Temptation’s See Who I Am, which actually put me off track for a bit. For a second I feared I got caught in the futile efforts of a band trying to feed off of another band’s success, but that thought quickly faded as the song continued. Even though the influence of Within Temptation remains a factor throughout the entire release, not in the least due to Fiona’s vocal range and style, it doesn’t get too dominating anywhere. Actually, in my opinion it’s not even an issue. Fallen Arise is in fact capable of and showing much more than simply imitating the sound of a big name in the genre. Though I won’t go as far as calling it unique, their sound is modified and developed enough to give it an identity of its own. The songs are, broadly spoken, very accessible and not overly complicated which contributes to the overall audibility of this release. Apart from Fiona’s sweet clean vocals the not too heavy grunts of Vlassis are a pleasant combination, giving the songs in which both are utilized enough spark to keep the power going. Guitars, bass and drums are all playing an important part in framing these vocal lines with delightful melodies, riffs and solos, like in Reborn, Embers or Forever Winter. Of course power is not their only means of playing, they are a symphonic band after all, there’s also plenty of room for more delicate melodies, where Fiona brings out a fragile voice that perfectly fits the frailty of the songs, best exemplified by Horizon.
Though in essence not all too different from their previous work, it’s not hard to hear there’s a huge amount of differences between Fallen Arise’s new release Enigma and their earlier work. Their weapon of choice still is the melodic, symphonic metal, but at a much more thought-out, more mature, more masterminded level. The turbulent compositions, the at times quite sloppy drum lines, the power metalesque vocal lines and the abundance of songs that lack power or can even be considered elevated intros have pretty much been abandoned and replaced with much more powerful, organic, coherent pieces of work, making this release sound pretty sweet and mature. Don’t expect to be mowed down with extremely heavy, tight guitar riffs, thundering drums and drill-like bass lines, that is not what Fallen Arise stands for. Instead you’ll find melodically flowing compositions with a generous dose of power that are easily accessible and will be of value to a wide variety of metal fans. Even though this might not be your thing and regardless what you think of their actual music, Fallen Arise’s level of growth between their previous releases and Enigma can only be described as impressive. For me personally this is definitely my thing, or rather one of my things, so I had a great time reviewing this. If you’re into melodic, symphonic metal, even if only a little bit, you should really give this a try.