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Crysalys - The Awakening of Gaia
CD Reviews
Written by Allyson Kenning   
Monday, 17 October 2011
Crysalys CD Review
The Awakening of Gaia
Crysalys - The Awakening of Gaia

CD Info
Wormholedeath-Dreamcell 11 / Aural Music
10 Tracks
English Lyrics with Some Italian


I have never been to the opera. Which on the one hand surprises me because I am very much into operatic vocals and I think I’d enjoy the music; on the other hand, I’m not a fan of live theatre even though I’ve attended several performances in both my student and professional life. I just don’t "get" live theatre; the connection isn’t there for me. But seeing a real opera is something I think I should add to my bucket list, just so I can say I’ve had the experience. After all, I did enjoy The Phantom of the Opera, and that’s pretty similar, right? Right??

I have listened to a metal opera - you know, the famous-ish one by the guy from Edguy whom I shall not name here. To say it was painful would be an understatement. But after listening to Crysalys, a new band from Italy of the more symphonic metal persuasion, and their debut album, The Awakening of Gaia, I have to say, that Edguy guy needs to stand aside because Cysalys’s CD is the real McCoy when it comes to metal operas.

I first came upon this band over Facebook, where I follow Eve’s Apple’s page. Crysalys vocalist, Chiara Malvestiti, posted the band’s video for their first single, the eponymous "The Awakening of Gaia." It was a very overwhelming introduction to the band because the song is, in a word I’ll steal from a comment on the YouTube video, "intense."

In the spotlight at centre stage of the song, the CD, and the band is Chiara, a small, young slip of a thing, who, when she opens her mouth to sing, fills every nook and cranny of the world of Gaia with powerful song. Trained in opera singing and, indeed, studying at The Conservatory in Italy with the goal of earning a degree in opera singing, Chiara has been mentored by mezzo-soprano Isabella Conti and Italian-Brasilian soprano Patrizia Morandini. In April of this year, Chiara made her opera debut performing the part of Eurydice in Gluck’s Orpheus.

Her voice is beyond impressive in terms of range, power, and versatility, but it took some time to get used to. It’s much more dramatic than any other classically trained metal vocalists I’ve heard. After several listens to that first song, I decided I needed more because this band seemed to have something going on here worthy of exploration. Upon listening to The Awakening of Gaia in its entirety, the album as a whole was quite mind-blowing. The first single merely scratches the surface of what this band accomplishes with this release.

This is no garden variety symphonic metal. This is symphonic metal with drama and character, and it’s progressive and unique. Chiara’s vocals and all the backing vocals are complex and the band manages to change up most of the choruses with different backing vocal lines so that almost no chorus sounds the same. The songs are not typical verse-chorus-verse-bridge-solo-chorus; every song is different in its structure. The only song that does kind of adhere to a traditional arrangement is the final song, "...And Let the Innocent Dream", which is not only one of the best songs on the CD because of its beauty, but has a distinct folky feel and groove to it I loved.

The compositions and musicianship are both tight, mature, and speak of talent and experience beyond the years of this young band. The lyrics, written in some cases by Chiara and in other cases by a couple of other people, are sophisticated and poetic. The imagery is lovely. Take for instance, these lines from "By the Stars Revealed":

As dark and stars come with the night
I trace a line writing my name
In this land with no more light
Those stars seem not so far away

While not exactly what I’d consider a concept album, in keeping with the opera idea I started, there is definitely a theme going on in The Awakening of Gaia, and it’s a theme we often see in metal: the dying earth, dire warnings about the dying of the earth, the destructive forces of mankind, etc. But Crysalys has gone a bit farther with this and created this all-seeing character of Gaia - the great mother of all in Greek mythology - looking down on her creation and reacting to what she sees. Gaia, as is suitable for an opera, is the leading character in this drama. Sirens, also Greek mythological creatures, make an appearance in this story as well. I like theme-driven stuff, especially in metal.

In summary, this is a fantastic start for this new band, but it isn’t something I’d introduce a newbie to the genre with because it’s really intense and if you’re not used to operatic vocals, the ones on this CD might seem on the intimidating side to begin with. I know it took me a while to adjust to Chiara’s style. You’ll need the lyrics when listening because it’s hard to understand the words Chiara is singing a lot of the time. The strongest songs are in the latter half of the album, in my opinion, but that doesn’t mean the first half isn’t worthy of praise. I was impressed by this release over all and find myself playing it quite a bit because of its emotional pull. By the way, there is a Canadian connection with it: the CD was mixed at Garage Studios in Montreal, and there is a Finnish link, too, because well known Mika Jussila of Finnvox Studios in Helsinki did the mastering.

A very enjoyable work and my hat is off to Crysalys!

8.5 / 10

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