Coming up on their twentieth year as a band, Xandria have only gotten better with age. Theater Of Dimensions is their seventh full length release and finds them more confident and comfortable with their approach. More than ever they are following in Nightwish’s footsteps, combining operatic vocals with symphonic elements.
This is the second album that features vocalist Dianne van Giersbergen. Her voice is bombastic as it is drenched in operatic overtones and blended with pop sensibilities. She is coming into her own as a singer. Her range is magnificent and her confidence exudes throughout the recording.
Musically lead songwriter Marco Heubaum does a nice job of utilizing the symphonic elements as they mix with the riffs instead of taking the spotlight away from them. Theater of Dimensions is the heaviest Xandria album to date.
“We Are Murderers (We All)” features one of their most aggressive riffs to date. A quick tremolo death metal riff explodes out of the speakers before transforming into a groove laden head banging part. Soilwork’s Björn Strid lends his vocal talents with some guttural vocals and nice harmonies in the chorus; it is an absolute gem.
The title track clocks in at over fourteen minutes. One of Xandria’s strengths is composing long theatrical pieces that never lose steam. The song continually shifts and turns with many different parts intertwined together. The piece is very visual and you can imagine this being performed on stage.
The musicianship is top notch and their playing is virtuosic. Heubaum is blazing on the guitar and keyboards. His licks and leads are the highlight of the material. Drummer Gerit Lamm, who has been with Xandria for all of their albums, does a good job of playing through the many different styles.
Xandria obviously are following in Nightwish’s footsteps and can be considered similar at times. When they turn up the heaviness and show more aggression is where they separate themselves and create their own identity.
The operatic vocals are an acquired taste and can be hard to handle at times, especially over 75 minutes. Theater Of Dimensions goes on far too long and one can lose interest about halfway through. It helps that the songwriting is multi dimensional and more layers are uncovered the more spins the album is given.
Xandria are getting better at finding their voice, but need to continue to find a way to get out from under the shadow of Nightwish. Vocalist van Giersbergen is fitting in nicely as their new vocalist and provides a needed stability. On par with their last release, Xandria continue to carve a path for themselves in the symphonic operatic metal genre.
(Released January 27th, 2017 on Napalm Records)