- - - - - -

Evilion - Vanity

Evilion - CD Review

CD Info
Independent Label
9 Tracks
English lyrics


It must be something in the water, because it can’t be mere coincidence that in this day and age, the country of Finland is flourishing with talent in the metal scene. Take your pick: from power metal like Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica; to femme-metal fatales like Nightwish or Lullacry; to mainstream rock like HIM and The 69 Eyes; to everything in-between like Children of Bodom or Battlelore, Finland’s musical landscape has got something for everyone. So at the same time, it is almost a given that when yet another Finnish band pops onto the scene, there are so many that by now, most might turn an indifferent ear to it.

Then again, given Finland’s excellent track record of producing top-quality music, newcomers on to the scene, such as female-fronted symphonic metal band Evilion, might be given the chance that the struggles of their earlier contemporaries made possible for them.

Evilion is a new band, but the members are not unknown. Born from the ashes of another Finn-metal band, Silentium, Evilion was created from three former members of this band (Anna, Jani, and Janne), along with old friends from other bands. Members of the band had musical experience not only with other bands, but also by way of studying in classical music institutions or teaching music professionally. So with lessons learned from these encounters, the members of Evilion were ready to take what they had learned and apply it to a relatively new idea to female-fronted music.

Deciding that the beauty-and-beast combination that has become a staple throughout the femme-metal genre was overdone, Evilion decided to take another route and instead of getting an aggressive male voice to accompany their serene operatic female voice, they instead chose yet another female-voice, one rooted more in heavy rock influences, to accompany their operatic vocalist. They would find that voice in a woman named Angela, whom they found on an internet site for Finnish musicians. Taking this seldom-tried approach, the band headed to the studio to lay down the nine tracks that would become their album Vanity.

As a way to promote their new music and gain a new audience, the band has offered their new album on their website, available for download, free of charge. Another way to use technology to gain interaction with their newfound audience, Evilion has also decided to hold a contest for a potential album cover drawn by a fan, to be released upon the commercial debut of their album. For a band with quite the unique approach at business, let’s see how this transfers over into the music.

Atmospheric keyboards and operatic chanting of the song’s title open up the first track, "My Silver". Then a burst of guitars and drums break in to bring its song to heaviness. A bit of techno influence, more guitars, then whispery female vocals, with aggressive guitar licks emphatically declaring each line. Angela’s rock voice comes in strong, Anna’s gentle voice backing her up, and orchestral elements complimenting them both. Angela’s voice becomes more prominent towards the end, and punctuates the symphonic notes at the end of the song.

Faint pianos slowly segue way to Anna’s voice and equally faint guitars, then another sudden barrage of band jam and Angela’s vocals. Welcome to track 2, "Birthmarks". After some lightning-fast vocals, the band slows down a moment for Angela to do some chant-like vocalization. Then the music moves quickly again, then slow once more for some of Anna’s vocals. The band slows for a bit, then Angela returns with her fierce vocals, with Anna’s not too far behind with some chops of her own. Anna’s dulcet tones lead the band into some bombastic keyboard work and overall good jamming. Her voice holds most the rest of the song, and then the band turns heavy again. Angela’s voice joins once more amidst operatic choir chants and atmospheric musicianship. It will ultimately be her voice that carries the song to its end.

Track 3, "Bread and Circuses", begins with lilting pianos and wintry orchestral work before the band jumps in with heavy riffs and Angela’s whispering. As the band grows heavier, the stronger her voice becomes. The voice slows down a bit, so does the band. This cycle carries for a bit before a small break and more of the same. Wailing guitars sprinkled throughout gives nice emphasis to Angela’s twisted vocal. Sounds like there is a flute in there somewhere, too! Anna’s voice is not as dominant here, but this does not make the song less pleasant for fans of the operatic influence within metal. There is plenty of neo-classical instrumentation to go around here. Nice drum rolls towards the 5-minute mark of the song. More pianos and horns before the song closes out shortly after.

Rhythmic guitar and drums take us to track 4, "Blind Spot". It’s apparent that Evilion are not too against the beauty-and-beast combo done within femme-metal, for the first vocals we hear are scary male death growls. Tormented guitar riffs bring us more of the death grunts, then the band stops to allow Anna and the piano to bring gentle repose. Then the band, along with Angela, kick back in for the chorus. The beginning riff starts up again, only now we are left with Anna’s clear, strong voice. The grunts return a little while later. Sounds like some distorted vocals are thrown in the mix before coming back around to Anna’s voice. Female laughter is heard and then both ladies’ voices return. Anna really belts it out in the choruses and as the song reaches the end. Angela’s voice is assertive as well, both voices and a screaming guitar riff close out this song.

Mournful strings soothingly open up track 5, "Wreck", then dark harmonics take us to the comfort of Anna’s voice. Then heavy orchestral work and Angela’s voice kick the song into high gear. Angela’s voice is angst-ridden as she sings the line, "tear me down!" More symphonic work emphasizes each vocal line. She also tries her hand at a high note, but it doesn’t carry out too well. But she seems to get by with the conflicted nature of the lyrics. The band continues their grandiose jam, Angela whispers, and then some nice guitar licks. Anna’s voice makes a return, leading way to more nice riffing and Angela’s forceful vocals. Both voices join together, making a nice tug-of-war of warped vocals and calm harmonics. The song ends after this with the same soft pianos with which it began.

More of the same ethereal feel starts off the next track, "Hide the Stars". Then a long guitar riff brings in the rest of the band and Anna’s vocals. For the first minute or so of the song, she is heard most, then slow drum beats bring Angela in as a backing vocal at first, then she takes over for the lead. A good guitar solo in the middle of the song with chanting vocals layered beneath. Anna’s voice makes a slow, steady return, then Angela comes back for more. The ladies combine their voices as the band comes in for a triumphant jam. Another awesome guitar part leads the way, and then moody keyboards herald in a gentle break and the song’s end.

Track 7, "Shadow", starts straightaway with a flurry of punchy musicianship, then the band slows down as Angela begins her singing. The band gets heavy again and so does Angela’s voice, then Anna comes in to back her up as the band winds down. As the music takes a slow turn, Anna’s vocals take the reins. Both voices become soft and whispery, the music becomes nothing more than a few piano notes as Anna unleashes some powerful vocals. Then the entire band and both ladies explode into an abundance of heavy riffing and vocal parts. The music alternates between antagonistic guitars and majestic symphonic work. The song carries on like this for a while, with classic metal guitar riffing peppered throughout. More of the "blaring trumpet" sound as Anna sings, then a musical wind-down as Angela takes over. Then the entire band comes together to rock out and lead the song to seemingly fade out, but pulls a surprise by ending with a bouncing bass part and a strange ticking noise.

Straight-up rock starts up the eighth track, "Black Ice". Angela’s voice is low and works a steady climb before Anna jumps in. Some more of Angela’s higher singing over heavy riffs, and then Anna’s voice calm as the band mellows down too. The song turns heavy again for both voices to be heard. Angela’s voice runs the gamut from shrieking highs to feathery lows. The music stops and starts a few times before taking a lighter turn, and Anna’s vocals move up front. Her notes become higher as the band gets heavier, then the band winds down once more before blowing back up into sound with Angela in tow. The song ends a moment later.

For the final track, "Mirage", steady drumming and tinkling keys throw us into a heavy guitar/bass combo, Anna’s vocals, and then Angela comes in to punctuate the music with a prolonged note. Her softer voice makes a return to accompany Anna, and then she returns to her more firm voice. She takes on a chant-like vocal about two minutes into the song, then Anna takes over again while the music turns to placid violins. Ethereal musicianship marks the band’s return, and both ladies take the stage now. More of the chanting vocalization as the band builds to the climactic end of the song, a single trumpet note marking the end of both song and album.

Overall opinion: For those who consider themselves fans of the operatic/symphonic metal genre, then Evilion is definitely a band worth putting on your "new bands to discover" list. There are plenty of classical elements within the music to keep a fan happy, while still maintaining more than enough heaviness to make for a damn good metal album. Anna’s operatic vocals are downright beautiful, but could be showcased more. Her voice could invoke the interest of Nightwish or Tristania fans. Angela’s rock-oriented voice makes a nice contrast to this, but her voice is very reminiscent of a Dale Bozzio (Missing Persons) or a Gwen Stefani; the high-pitched, nasal, girly-type voice that is better suited fronting an alternative rock band, not necessarily a symphonic metal band. Evilion is on the right track by incorporating two distinct female vocalists, but I feel another kind of "rock" voice is in order. Maybe not something so pitchy or wailing; Anna delivers some great high notes of her own, so leave the high notes to the operatic singer. Angela is not a terrible singer, but some of her vocalizations become repetitive, and as a result, sometimes boring. I think a singer with a lower range or raspier voice (think Helen of Flowing Tears) would compliment Anna’s voice much better. It looks as if the band feels this way too, because as of this writing, Evilion is currently looking for a new vocalist to replace Angela. This might be good incentive for those who have tried Evilion and did not care for Angela’s voice, to give them another try when a replacement is found. All minor annoyances aside, Evilion is a great band that appears to have a lot going for them. Their experience in music, not only in bands but also on the professional level as well, have made for all the right ingredients for a strong band with staying power. Evilion has got a long way to go before claiming next in line to the Nightwish throne, but I see no reason why with time, and continued good songwriting, that this band can’t someday join the ranks of their beloved Finn-metal counterparts.