The opening track by Mime, "Inside," provides a brief taste of what is to follow with a powerful almost spoken voice engineered way above the instrumentation. But it's when the marvelous Single Gun Theory track "Motherland" opens that the sound, trademarked by the Heavenly Vocals series, comes to life. Single Gun Theory has a unique ability to bring stunning female vocals to life over a lush electronic backdrop. Their track featured here is from their latest and, in our opinion, best album.
The classical version of "Restless" by Within Temptation features stunning soprano vocals over a warm piano instrumental foundation. Deeply melodic choral elements underscore the lead vocals. Love Spirals Downwards follows with an electronically influenced track featuring drum loops, lush guitars and further instrumentation in what appears to be previously unreleased in the song "City Moon." The track is truly a testament to the gothic texture the band have made popular in their own recordings and previous appearances in the Heavenly Voices series. As before, their lyrics can not be understood on first listening (if ever).
"Just Around The Corner" by Siddal builds upon the gothic theme set down by Love Spirals Downwards with a lighter sounding vocalist and less percussion. A warm piano foundation sets the scene for "Shrink" by The Gathering. With vocals sounding very familiar to some pop vocalists we've heard, the track is a heartfelt ballad, briefly filled with soaring electric guitar.
Currently from the top selling Hyperium recording by Stella Maris, the heavenly mix of their track "E-Tiero" follows. The brainchild of Dirk Schlömer and female singer Raphaela Hermes, the Stella Maris album (Hyperium Cat. No. 391 0193 2) really must be heard in entirety to fully appreciate. Hyperium writes, "Dirk and Raphaela are spiritual musicians in a classical sense enchanting the listener with this unique mix of heavenly voices gregorian chants, atmospherical medieval soundscapes and pulsating beats." Exactly right - the track featured here is a terrific introduction to the band.
A slow heavily guitar-laced ballad with soaring vocals by Rose Chronicles entitled "Blood Red" is next up. The band's sound is not unlike The Gathering. The Moors dark sounding "Guth Na Torainn" follows with an electronic soundscape underscored with percussion. The vocals are deep and dark sounding, certainly chant-like, and are spoken most likely in Gaelic. Guitars join the soundscape as the heavenly voices join the song and add significant brightness to the band's medieval sound, enhanced significantly by choral elements.
Aurora Sutra's "Goddess Shape-Shifting" has a lovely female voice singing German lyrics over acoustic guitar and a mildly percussive foundation. Electric guitars change the mood to progressive rock in Lacuna Coil's song "Falling" which is heavily laced with further electronic instrumentation and vocals very much in the theme of Leger De Main. Clearly the most powerful of the album's female vocalists, this track must be an outstanding to Lacuna Coil's work.
Liv Kristine's "Waves Of Green" is one of the most relaxing tracks on the album. The light voice in this almost classic ballad is accompanied lightly with harp and other strings, slight percussion and keyboard giving an almost orchestral quality. This is a song built to illustrate her vocal talents of the artist and highlight them.
Das Zeichen take us back to the Gothic texture with the dark sound contained within the almost worldly sound of "Douh-Sah-Ra." Vocals are powerful at times but subdued at others within the chant sound created within the track. There's a good vocalist in there and while the beat picks up, overall the track is drawn out, un-melodic, a bit too chant-based for our tastes and too dark for us.
The album closes with the track, "Lady Solitude" by Essences. This is a brighter track with a vast array of percussive elements and is almost lullaby-like when the vocals take hold. Warm and melodic, the track reminds us of the textures that Hyperium built these albums to create. Essences' vocalist is one of the best on the album and the song, with excellent instrumentation including a stunning violin part, perfectly illustrates the emotion she can convey.
Heavenly Voices Part V is indeed another wonderful album in the series of Hyperium compilations. Clearly, the absolutely stunning tracks by Single Gun Theory, Stella Maris and Essences point to artists with albums worth further exploration immediately.
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