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Whyzdom – Blind?
CD Reviews
Written by Doctor T.   
Sunday, 23 September 2012
Whyzdom CD Review
Blind
Whyzdom - Blind

 

 

CD Info

2012

Skarlet Records 
11 Tracks

English, Latin & some French Lyrics

 


 

 

Some sounds just seem to click for me. This is one of them. I’ve been big on Whyzdom since their original EP blew me out of the water. Now I can understand that not everyone likes the same material. But, here’s what I like: solid metal, strong symphonics, choirs, a killer female vocal and lyrics that say something meaningful to me. And Whyzdom has never let me down. Never. This is their second full release and the female vocal thing has gone through some changes. The original vocalist, Telya Melane, presented a soaring vocal, delivered by one of the most beautiful women ever to grace the planet. She left after the first full CD and was replaced by several vocalists, none of whom are present on the current release. Our vocalist here is Elvyne Lorient, another French beauty.. . .seems there are a lot of them. But, interestingly enough, she sure reminds me of Telya on some tracks, and that’s a good thing. But the sound is true to the traditional Whyzdom, if a little bigger. You still get the orchestrations and the choir. You still get screaming metal and you still get a message worth paying attention to, assuming you can get past the music which is simply outstanding. The frameworks are similar to the previous work, the approach, the production, the track structure. But they seem to have expanded it a little, in some cases a lot. I guess when you’re doing well you can afford to spend a little more money on the production and that may be the case here.

Well, if you’re familiar with the previous Whyzdom releases you’ll know that there is a solid classical direction. Band boss Vynce Leff is no beginner. He’s a solid orchestral mechanic, he knows his way around the classical elements, both vocal and musical. I was able to interact with Vynce during the production of this review and he provided some in depth background to the production. The first thing you discover with any Whyzdom release is the orchestration. It’s pretty much in a league of its own, Therion notwithstanding. But then, they’re pretty much done so Vynce has much of this to himself these days. I asked him about the orchestration, he replied: "For orchestral part, it's the same: instruments are used to play different lines, sometimes answering each another, sometimes playing variations of the same melody. This can be heard at the end of Paper Princess for example, where flutes and oboes play a very soothing transposed variation of the melody that was previously exposed by angry guitars and horns in the bridge.

Technically speaking, I did not use a real orchestra. Only samples. I have several libraries, which are quite expensive (Vienna Symphonic Library, East@West, Siedlaczek and more). It's the price to pay to achieve realistic instruments, but it's also a lot of work, tweaking, etc... instrument by instrument. A time eater ! On a budget, the East&West is the best one I think." For those of you who have never heard of East & West, it’s becoming the standard for this type of music. I know at least a half dozen solid musical groups who are using it to one extent or another. It’s amazing what you can produce with a product like this, it’s pretty much the standard with the music folks in Hollywood, and it’s quickly catching on with the Symphonic Gothic bands throughout the world.

But with Whyzdom, more than just about anything else, it’s the choral work. There are only a few musical entities in this genre who utilize this approach to the extent that Whyzdom does. You can point to the early Tristania, Serania stuff, obviously Therion, Within Temptation, some others. But Vynce has utilized this component with every release, and to a magical effect. Much of that work is done in languages like Latin and Ancient Greek. We see some of that here, in my opinion it’s a requirement for this type of music. Again, Vynce addressed the approach, "Choirs, as usual, were recorded with real singers. They are really top level ones. Even more than on the ‘Brink’. It's a huge work to make it all work together and what differs from many other bands using choir, is that the choir parts are very complex. There are no less than 4 to 5 countermelodies, i.e. singers singing different things to build coherent harmony. This is rather obvious in the intro of "Cathedral Of The Damned', for example, in which you can hear a very high pitched soprano line, very fast articulated soprano + alto lines, tenor + bass singing another one 'Domine, quare'. This is also the case in the choir of Dancing With Lucifer. There's a huge work to make all the orchestra parts working together. If you listen closely to the choral bridge, you'll be able to hear:

- the guitar riff
- Staccato Brass, to give a rythmic edge
- Melodic strings, completely different from the guitars and that make use of empty spaces
- Choir with different melodic lines, intertwined with orchestra (listen to the tenor bass, scanding "Vade, retro, Sa-ta-na", while the female vocalist sings something completely different.

Needless to say there is some significant sophistication to this music. And this carries over to the title, which doesn’t seem to capture the Gothic direction of previous efforts. But, when I asked Vynce about that his response was interesting, "It all comes from the word ‘blind’ that struck me a few years ago. I developed different directions from the word: Firstly the concept of foreseeing, with that incredible mythic character of Cassandra. Second, the blindness of people in a more general way: sometimes because they don't really see what's happening around them, sometimes because they don't WANT to see what's happening around them. In many cases, it helps us feel better, pretending to ignore madness around us, doesn't it?

Which brings us to a discussion of the individual tracks. It’s hard to decide where to begin, there are no weak links here, there’s only great and really great. I don’t think you’ll hear anything here you won’t find interesting. The music is devastating, the vocals as good as Telya, maybe better, the ideas more than worthy of your consideration. We begin with The Lighthouse. I apologize here for not having a lot of links to this music, but, it’s just too early. Give it a little time and there’ll be links on YouTube, there are some on the website here. But, in the meantime, Vynce again provided insight into the individual tracks, and this one, that leads off with a full symphonic / choral background to the overwhelming vocal is described this way: "The Lighthouse: when despair squeezes your heart. Night seems to fall around you, you feel lost, just like a small boat in a restless sea. The point is that ‘someone’ shut down the light you needed. It's something I think everyone has come through in his life at least once, with maybe a temptation for suicide. Anyway, I know that feeling. And I think that listening to this song, especially the chorus, that tells the listener to fight and not to rely on destiny, would have helped me at that time."

Other tracks follow this interesting direction. One that appealed to me was Cassandra’s Mirror. It’s described as "Cassandra tells her story: she's a foreseer, but she was condemned by Gods to be never believed. In this song, there's a meeting between a grown up Cassandra and herself as a child (hence the Mirror). The child wants to refuse her foreseeing ability." Lyrically we get:

My name is Cassandra / I’ve been foreseeing things for as far as I can remember
I saw my parents die / But there wasn’t anyone to listen to the childrens’ tales
I saw my children die / Before I even conceived them

This interesting lyrical development continues throughout the work. In fact, it’s hard to find one that doesn’t interest, either lyrically or musically. The excellence continues throughout the entire work. However, there are several that demand attention. On the Road to Babylon has to be one of the finest interpretations of the Gothic Musical genre ever conceived. We hear sounds that others can hardly conceive of. However, it’s the final track, a 10 plus minute opus that commands the most attention. Cathedral of the Damned takes us to places rarely explored. The initial 2 minutes, shown in this intro video, provide a symphonic Gothic hard to imagine. The remaining sounds take us to places hard to forget. Our lovely vocalist shows us she is true to the sounds Telya made unforgettable. I would be hard pressed to find music to compare this one too.

Blind? provides music that pretty much defines this musical genre for the 21st century. If there is better music out there, I haven’t heard it. Of course, that’s one man’s opinion. But, I’ve been listening for a long time. And this one is one to be treasured. A 10 is the minimum I can grade this one at. You may well go beyond that. Either way, you won’t be disappointed. A classic.

10 / 10

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