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While this website has become known for its in-depth album and concert reviews, the digest contains concise comments on new music our audience has either recommended or might enjoy. Click on album covers or label names for links to further information. Click on the title to view the article.

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Grace Submerged CD Cover
Image © Candlelight Records 2007

Octavia Sperati 2007
Image © Candlelight Records 2007

More Octavia Sperati:
Winter Enclosure (2005)


(27 December 2007) Octavia Sperati made their worldwide debut in 2005 with the slow and atmospheric sound of Winter Enclosure (review). It wasn't long before this previously all-female band from Bergen, Norway were turning heads throughout the metal, progressive, and rock worlds with their unique sound. Two years after the release of their debut, the band returns with Grace Submerged (Candlelight Records (UK), 2007), an album sure to be remembered as an interesting step in their evolution.

The first thing one notices about Grace Submerged is that it flows more smoothly from song to song and also moves at a much faster pace overall. Octavia Sperati also creates a productionally dirtier sound here than originally expected. Given the band's previous work the natural evolution would have been the typical "more piano and beautiful vocal melodies" approach that bands like Nightwish and Within Temptation embraced as their respective bands got more and more attention. While Octavia offer some of that here, there are just as many downright heavy moments. Much of the new album is comprised of hard hitting guitar riffs that sound raw and fuzz laden, undeniably leaning heavily towards influences such as Type O Negative and Candlemass.

"Don’t Believe a Word" is the first piano-laden ballad that registers. Easily reminiscent of Tori Amos, the song provides firm evidence of the band's diverse talents as well as their fearless nature, tackling whatever styles they wish rather than following simplistic trends. "..and then the world froze" follows superbly, registering as one of the tighter sounding songs on the album and moving at a nearly radio-friendly pace. Vocalist Silje sounds absolutely beautiful on these two pieces in particular.

The band continues to experiment towards the end of the album with two fairly epic pieces in "Dead End Poem" and "Submerged." The former is another piano-laden ballad that is accentuated beautifully by one of the most sweeping guitar pieces of recent memory. It nearly reaches an operatic stage by the time it ends, feeling similar to Virgin Black's guitarist, Samantha Escarbe, work on the Sombre Romantic album. The latter stands as an outro for the album but its atmosphere draws you in so wholly that you nearly forget that there are no vocals.

While Grace Submerged will undoubtedly appeal to fans of seventies hard rock and its many children, it is the quieter moments that make this album something special. Although the approach to the band's softer side is a bit formulaic, ultimately it is the fact that Octavia Sperati is comprised of some very good musicians that are able to tap their emotions wholeheartedly that keep it from sounding like its contemporaries. The band manages to maintain their uniqueness even when performing songs similar to many other artists. Grace Submerged does an excellent job of showcasing two very different sides of this talented band.--Mark Fisher in Fairmont, West Virginia

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