(Napalm Records) Enslain Magazine Volume 2, Issue 1 Making the transition from one singer to another must be the most difficult adjustment an established band can make. This is especially true for a female vocalist - particularly one with a voice as unique as Alexandra. Darkwell was forced to do just that after their 2000 debut record "Suspiria", a subtly gentle and melodic piece of beauty, and an MCD in 2002.
The problem from a fan perspective is adjusting to a completely different voice while still thinking of it as the same band. While Alexandra had a very soft, angelic, and beautifully powerless voice, new vocalist Stephanie Luzie introduces the well-trained opera-vibrato strength that was unknown to Darkwell's previous works. It's obvious that Stephanie is an experienced singer, and her mid-range voice fits well with the music. But it still feels like a drastically different band.
There is a darkness in the overall musical quality, and this hasn't changed much, but it's obvious that the sound has adjusted to accommodate the stronger vocal. There's a little less gothic, little more melodic metal. The truth is, Darkwell sounds a little more like all the other female-fronted bands now. There is, however, a lot of musical growth on this record. "Crown of Thorn", for example, is a perfect reason to keep hope in this band. Ms. Luzie helps make this song sound like a fairy-tale with her enchanting and instrumental quality pitch changing melodies, which sound like a complement to the sound of flutes which fills in while she breaks. The greatest strength of her voice is the memorability of her lines - they are at times so distinctly original. There are also more dimensions to the music than before, mostly thanks to the versatility of the keyboards, which can create a dark, epic, mystical, or futuristic mood to the songs.
The songs seem more up-tempo and lively, giving a little more spirit to this release. Although "Metatron" is a huge departure from their impressive past, it has what it takes to begin a successful new, and very different future. Fans of the "Napalm Records" genre will definitely approve.