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Xandria - 'The Wonders Still Awaiting'

Kerry Ellis - 'Kings & Queens'

Xandria are the brainchild of Marco Heubaum, and to date there have been over twenty members of the band since 1994, including touring members. The last album ‘Theatre Of Dimensions’ was really good but was released over five years ago, and reports of problematic live shows didn’t do much to suggest I should get too excited about this new album. How wrong was I. New singer Ambre Vourvahis and the rest of the new recruits have rejuvenated this project. The album is stunning, and if it’s not in my top five albums for 2023 I will be absolutely amazed.

Every track on this record is of the highest quality, and the songs are accompanied in various spots by a fourty-piece classical choir, a children’s choir, as well as the usual orchestral support and brilliant violin and cello interactions. Vourvahis has such a beautiful voice and appears to be able to sing any style, from Classical to Opera to Metal to full on growling vocals.

It’s difficult to review an album where every single track is amazing, but highlights for me include the full-on Symphonic track ‘Two Worlds’ and ‘The Wonders Still Awaiting’, which has an incredibly cinematic feel to it, and the powerful drive of ‘Ghosts’. As good as all these songs are, however, nothing could prepare me for the stunning beauty of ‘Your Stories I’ll Remember’, a heart-breaking song about the pain of loss and death that actually left me very emotional upon my first listen, and is just so beautiful that it will have anybody that has experienced the loss of a loved one feeling incredibly sad and uplifted at the same time. You have turned my mourning into dancing indeed.

The album switches effortlessly through a variety of styles, from the Power Metal of ‘Illusion Is Their Name’, to the excellent ‘Paradise’ and the brilliant and exceptional Rock track ‘Scars’. The album finishes up with the epic nine-minute song ‘Asteria’, partially sung in Greek, and it is a fabulous finale to an exceptional piece of art. Make no mistake, this album breaks new ground not only for the band but for this genre of music in general, and the gauntlet has been well and truly thrown down for 2023.


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