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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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Astronomicon CD Cover
Image © Earache Records 2002

Photo by John MacMurtrie
Image © Earache Records 2002

Interview with Julie

(05 April 2003) The debut album from Hungary's melodic metal band Without Face entitled Astronomicon (Earache Records (USA/UK) MOSH 901CD, 2002) is omprised of six epic-length tracks. The new album comes on the heels of their highly successful debut and remastered versions of Deep Inside. The initial North American release of also includes a bonus disc. Like Italy's Lacuna Coil (review), the band's material includes sharply contrasting male and female vocals.

Without Face is fronted by their stunning female vocalist Juliette Kiss. Visit their website to view further information and see photographs of the artists. THe band's vocal work is shared by András. Instrumental contributions come from band members Péter (drums), Sasza (keyboards) and Ákos (bass). The music is lush and melodic blending light and heavy guitar riffs with synthesizer, piano and other keyboard textures. Male vocals are primarily sung but the typical metal grunt sounds also appear in spots.

Keyboard excursions compliment the guitar arrangements in the album's dramatic and dynamic opening track "Weird Places." We especially enjoyed the way that Juliette's vocals soared over and András' heavier vocals through the sung portions of the epic. Juliette's whispers added lovely texture during the bridge. The pace of the album continues to build in "Pit and Pendulum" with rapidfire guitar riffs dominating the bridge. Significant tempo changes within the piece showcase the depth and reach of both Juliette's and András' vocal ranges.

The album's third track "... In The Garden" builds upon the foundation established in the first two numbers. Dominated by initially by András' vocals, Julie contibutes contrasting textures that work against the atmospheric gothic oriented rich keyboard- and guitar-based arrangements. We especially enjoyed the flute [perhaps played on keyboard] and fast-paced keyboard solo during the bridge. A sharply contrasting piece, "The Violin of Erich Zann," follows. Lush progressive style keyboards meet heavier guitar with the two vocalists working harmoniously together.

The heavier male vocal and richer guitar sounds within "Talamasca" are compensated by keyboard, piano and Juliette's softer vocal contributions. Her vocals are clearly the highpoint of the band's performance and, based on the photos at their website, her contributions are equally enticing in their live performances. While much of the vocal work is shared, she clearly takes the lead in the short "Daimonion," a progressively textured masterpiece with the tenderist of layered vocal work backed by piano; the closing piece, it is an absolute standout of the album.

Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com here. The quality of the recorded material compensates for the short (45 minute) running time of the album. Clearly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, this second album from Without Face is a must listen!

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