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Deep Sun - Flight of the Phoenix

Deep Sun - CD Review
Flight of the Phoenix

Deep Sun

CD Info
Self Released
6 Tracks
English Lyrics

Rarely does a band, metal or otherwise, duplicate the energy and passion of a live performance on an album. However, Deep Sun, a Symphonic Metal group from Switzerland, has managed to do just that with the release of their first EP Flight of the Phoenix. They have definitely put themselves on the list as one of the bands to “keep an eye on.” I was very surprised that this was their very first album. The raw energy and passion are apparent from the opening of the first track through the sixth.

Deep Sun was first conceived in 2005 with drums and guitar (Eros DiPrisco). Keyboards (Tom Hiebaum) and a vocalist were added in 2006 which started the symphonic metal sound. However, this combination was short lived and it wasn’t until 2008 that their actual name Deep Sun was chosen. Throughout 2008 and 2009 another vocalist and guitarist (Pascal Töngi) were chosen. Additionally, in 2010 the present vocalist Debora Lavagnolo joined along with current bassist Angelo Salerno. Finally, in 2011, the present drummer Tobias Brutschi became a member. I bring up all this history because it answered my biggest question, which is, “Why hadn’t Deep Sun release an album before 2013?”

I can see a very bright future for this six piece band. They have the ingredients needed to be successful with the right mixture of instruments. An interesting aspect of this band is that they all have classical music backgrounds. All the instrumentalists played other instruments before choosing their present instrument. This allows for an interesting mix of genres in this album. While Deep Sun would be considered a Symphonic Metal band, there are some influences of Classical and Heavy Rock in some songs. For some people, Deep Sun, with their classical training, while playing Symphonic Metal, remind me of Trans- Siberian Orchestra, a group which plays classical music in a metal genre.

As I listened to Flight of the Phoenix, I was looking for a common theme among the songs in the album. Surprisingly it is a nice collection of six songs with unique varieties. There isn’t one underlying theme for the album. Debora, the vocalist, shows off her over six years of classical training with her wide range of vocalizing in the songs. Also, I had a chance to see a couple of videos of the group and Debora has a very strong stage presence. You can observe her strong facial and body movements that enhance her singing. All the instrumentalists are prominent throughout the album and they are well blended and make rhythmic changes with ease.

The opening track, “Flight of the Phoenix” sets the tone of the album letting the listener know right away that Deep Sun is a Symphonic Metal Band. An intro that includes power chords from the guitars and a simple repeated arppegiated chord from the keyboards are joined with a heavy driving bass line and drum beat. Then we are treated to the soaring vocals from Debora. It is almost like she is the “Phoenix” rising over the instruments. For classically minded people, the song is Wagnerian in that Debora voice holds its own similar to Brünnhilde in “The Ride of the Valkeries.” The main lyrics (chorus) that’s repeated are interesting.

This is the flight of the Phoenix, beyond the world he flies, I can see him in the sky, like he’s burning in the sun, and builds to dust, builds to dust, builds to dust, builds to

“Fading Away” reminds me of a rock anthem in a unique way. After starting out with a guitar power chord that is faded in and out and includes cymbals, we are treated to pulsating keyboards with guitar and bass underneath leading up to the vocals. The vocals aren’t as prominent in this song except in the chorus. There are also some nice harmony parts in the song. I am not sure if both of the parts are sung by Debora or not, but the harmony is close and tight. Of all the songs, this is the calmest of all. The guitar provides a very mellow melody line which is then contrasted with a reminder that they want to be a Symphonic Metal Band in the chorus. The chorus lyrics:

I will be here in the darkness, light and shade is fading away

I could very easily see why “Circle of Witches” would be a favorite of many people, whether a fan of Symphonic Metal or other genres. I almost chose it as my favorite; however, I found another song that I enjoyed even more. This song opens with a “Tubular Bells” like keyboard solo. Added to that comes the traditional metal guitar chording and drumming. Once the vocals enter, we have a very interesting guitar countermelody playing against the vocal line. A unique feature of this song is the vocal calisthenics provided by Debora. She provides the purest mixture of what could be considered operatic and Symphonic Metal. This plays back and forth as the witches fly around and builds up the highest point (vocally) at the end of the song. The lyrics under Debora’s vocal calisthenics are interesting as shown:

Growling – screaming loud, dancing – giggling, scratching – bleeding out, they speak the language of rivers and seas, they speak the language of shadows, they speak the language of fire and earth, they speak the language of the skies

The other songs on the CD include “Forbidden Love” and “Walking Dead Man.” These two songs are true Symphonic Metal songs. They include the heavy guitar riffs, the powerful drumming and a driving bass line. Debora’s vocals are strong but not overpowering in these two songs.

My favorite song in the album would have to be “The Pattern.” This song is mixture of Symphonic Metal, Rock, and a little Jazz included. The many seamless changes throughout the song show a mastery of various music styles and a testament to the members’ musical backgrounds. After starting with a drum count off, we have a call and response between the two guitarists on a simple syncopated rhythm where they keep lowering the key. Then the keyboards sustain chords. Next comes some solo guitar intermixed with solo rock drumming. The vocals are much softer than the other songs and have interesting lyrics. Once again, we have some very close harmony. Between the vocals, we get to experience many solos on a melody introduced by the keyboard. Almost every instrument takes a turn improvising on the melody. As the song gets close to the end there is a melody – counter melody between the vocalist and guitar. The lyrics that I found most interesting are:

Pursuing greatness – trying so hard, seemingly endless – it tears me apart, can’t feel not pleasure by the slightest degree, my pattern of failure is haunting me

Overall, Flight of the Phoenix is a pleasant and surprising album, especially since this is their first one. Even though there are only six songs, they are diverse, both musically and vocally. The energy that Deep Sun brings to the live stage is definitely present in the songs. (see Émilie Garcin’s Concert Review “Masters of Symphonic Metal” which is also on Sonic Cathedral.) The instrumentalists and the vocalist show mastery of their instruments and blend together in a very nice style. My only recommendation would be to have more songs where Debora isn’t using her operatic voice as much. I have definitely added this CD to my library and any Symphonic Metal followers should consider this one as well. Also, if you would like to see the band’s perspective concerning the recording of the album, you can go to their facbook page.

9.5 / 10