Seraphic: Journey To Illumination

- I'm quite sure I'm as boring as any addict, stuck in self-denial: “Oh, I don't do it all the time and, you know, I'm sure once more can't hurt.” Here I am again saying, “well, I don’t generally go in for symphonic metal and I certainly don't have any Nightwish records in my collection.” Yeah, yeah, whatever. How many times have I air-shredded along to Seraphic's new record? Well, maybe a couple … but I'm sure I could stop whenever I want to.

The combination of a metal band with piano and high, clean soprano vocals should be so naff. Yet -and it happened the first time I heard them a few years ago, judging a metal competition- as they roar from epic peak, down through the bridging trough and up to yet another, higher peak, a streak of fire shoots up my spine; I'm transfixed, on the verge of giggling at the audaciousness.

For me, the effect stems from the power elements of Seraphic's sound. I don't think I could do this without the blast beats, the speeding but tight rhythm lines and the complex but rigidly precise solos. It actually made me go back and pull out some old Dragonforce records and listened to them side by side. Well, you might scoff – but I think the comparison is favourable.

I wonder if, in saying that, I'm downplaying what are, really, the defining elements of the band: Sam Wolstonholme's keys and soaring soprano. I really don't mean to: she fronts this tightly technical unit and brings the same machinelike grace to what she does. As I admitted -and it probably disqualifies me from judging- I'm not a Nightwish fan and, every now and then I might be secretly waiting, wishing for the slickly clean symphonic metal vocals to be overwhelmed by the brutal roar of an Elizabeth Andrews or Angela Gossow ripping through the mix. Thinking some more on it, part of it is the mix – the vocals share the space quite democratically with the other elements of the sound and, maybe, it might be nice to hear them dominating a little harder?

The vocal placement is a particular stylistic choice and, if you consider the production of Journey To Illumination -]done by The Stranger axeman Kalen Austin and the mastering by Opeth producer Jens Borgen- well it's pretty hard to fault. The sound construction spaciously encompasses all the different members of the band, their highly divergent volumes and timbres – giving them the elbow-room they need in an efficient manner of operation, much like the band themselves.

Seraphic come from a town that's long been known for music that's rough, ready and heavy and -I don't know- that might make you take them for granted? It might make you forget that when you stack up against most other bands out of Brisbane, Seraphic would annihilate them. I think you can cast the net wider. I think I already made it clear I'd rather listen to Seraphic than Nightwish, watch out symphonic power metallers of the world, Seraphic are definitely in this game.

- Chris Cobcroft. 

Album Details

Album Title: Journey To Illumination
Artist: Seraphic
Record Label: (Indie)