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Dreams and Feelings
Image 2001 Black Flames Productions 

(11 April 2001) The debut album by Poland's melodic heavenly vocals band Centuria is entitled Dreams and Feelings (Dion Fortune Records (Germany) BN 564 / Black Flames (Poland) BFCD 004 / SPV 085-58312, 2000). Lead vocalist Anna Wojtkowiak provides the central texture to the album with solo and layered English lyrics and vocalise soaring above the richly arranged keyboard instrumentals. The band is also comprised of D.a.n.y (drums, percussion, samples) and Jaroslaw Baran (keyboards, guitar, samples). The album is distributed in America by Projekt and drew our immediate attention from first listen.

From the news release, "Centuria is a new and extremely interesting band that breavely explores dimensions of music and sound that were relatively unknown before. A sense of taste, that you have never met before, inspired by many kinds of music, let the young beginners compose an unusual record, unique in sounds, deeply emotional, sensual and original. [Taken from the lyrics of the second track "Tristia",] Dreams and Feelings is a well chosen title. Centuria means the music of your soul; there is no room for metal agressiveness here, although some associations with Fula, The Gathering or Liv Kristine occur to the listener immediately. You can find here, a feeling flawless beauty, fragility, sweetness and inspiration. This is truly unusual music--Heavenly Goth--which has a certain something. The band has existed merely for a year and a half and this debut album was recorded in their own studio and produce by themselves."

The album opens with the upbeat and higly melodic track "Bewitched," in wich Anna's vocals draw the listener into the rest of the recording. The rhythmic keyboard introduction of "Tristia" immedately reminded us of Fula (review), however, this track opens into a lushly arranged vocal masterpiece. Crisp percussion underscores arrangement of the solo verses and multi-tracked choruses while rhythmic keyboard scales, reminiscent of the introduction compliment the metal-edged instrumental bridges. Evocatively sung, the lyricless "Forgetfulness," rich with soaring vocalise, demonstrates Anna's range, power and virtuosity as well as the instrumentalists' skills across a broader range of genres from new age to heavy metal. In contrast, the sweetly sung track "Fabella" is a well arranged upbeat and highly accessible pop-oriented tune. Lush with layers of harmony vocals, Anna's stunning solos break through now and again further enticing the listener.

Unlike the tracks that precede it, "Omen" is an agressive metal-edged, but highly rhythmic track, with contrasting layers of sweet vocalise alternating with an almost-spoken lyric. Tender keyboard textures add to gentle lead vocal line of the atmospheric track "Apocalypse" before the agressive second part of the track develops into its full splendour illustrating Centuria's musical virtuosity. "The Awakening" is the album's one gentle--almost lullaby--ballad. Sung sweetly over a symponic keyboard-based arrangement, it illustrates the softest side of Anna's vocal range.

We especially enjoyed the way that Anna's lead vocal broke through the instrumentals of the lush symphonic arrangements of "Heaven and ..." Listeners will fully appreciate her talent as Anna's lead soars to the highest notes--reminscent of Annie Haslam--on the album. The album draws to a close with the short but progressively-arranged "Dytyramb." A blend of orchestral rock and classical keyboard-based arrangements are complimented by Anna's stunning vocalise.

Centuria's album Dreams and Feelings is indeed a tremendous band with enormous international potential. The album is readily available from Projekt and we fully expect broader availablility as critical acclaim continues to build. Certainly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, Centuria's debut album is a must listen!

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