Album review: ARION – Vultures Die Alone

AFM [release date: 9.04.21]

Over the 10 years since their debut, Arion have swapped teenage Eurovision notoriety for cutting edge symphonic rock. Like other Power Metal bands, their music is emphatic, and heavy on the drama. They know how to juggle bombast with slick, edgy heavy metal, creating excitement with distinctive, powerful melodies.

But there’s more to this band. And it’s something you can hear developing over the last couple of albums, culminating in Vultures Die Alone. The songs are bold, thrusting, with an underlying sense of threat . . . symphonic metal set in a shadowy, post industrial landscape.

The arangements are often beefed up with the muscle fibre of hip hop and what were once contemporary metal tropes… ‘Break My Chains’ and ‘Bloodline’s passive aggressive vocals and clipped lyrical phrasing, set against surging choral cantatas and growling choruses, nudge at the needle of the genre’s stylistic compass.

And simply by opening with the otherworldy sound of a Russian Orthodox choir, before erupting into a huge piece of intensely delivered music, ‘I Love To Be Your Enemy’ (a duet with Noora Louhimo)  declares a desire to be just as different.

As the titles might suggest, the more traditional power metal tracks, ‘Out Of My Life’ and ‘I’m Here To Save You’ carry considerable emotional freight. These two are bursting with melody and invention, structurally tight and lyrically deft, recalling Dynazty’s and Evergrey’s recent recordings.

And as is often the case, it’s the tracks that cut against the grain of the surrounding material that stand out most. The Symphonic pop metal of ‘In The Name Of Love’, a piano driven duet with Finnish pop sensation, Cyan Kicks, is not original, but is radical in the way it is presented, and is a cool piece of marketing.

But the real standout, by a considerable margin, is ‘Ocean Meets The Sky’, a widescreen instrumental track that stretches the band’s musical landscape in many different ways. It’s unusual for a Symphonic/Power Metal band to record a full length instrumental, and you can see why Arion included this one. It plays on the idea of music being a substitute for images. The track’s sumptious cinematic grooves mirror a truly climactic big screen moment, and we are encouraged to buy in. It’s an electrifying, exciting piece of music.

There can be no question, Vultures Die Alone edges this band closer to Champions’ League giants like Avantasia, Kamelot and Stratovarius. ****

Review by Brian McGowan

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