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Sovereign Council - 'Laniakea' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/31/6b/9d/Sovereign-Council-Laniakea-57-1453583040.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     January 23, 2016    
 
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A collection which is more epic and melodic rather than Symphonic and orchestral.

Here's living proof that shows that Female-Fronted Symphonic Rock/Metal isn't an exclusive domain and does reach beyond the boundaries of the Netherlands and mainland Europe. Formed in 2012, Sovereign Council, from Kingston, Ontario have opted for the "dual singer" approach and offer up a combination of male and female vocals to spearhead the band. The question is, how have they developed since their debut album ('New Reign') which saw them nudging their way towards the front of the Canadian Rock and Metal scene?

Having joined SC to accompany Alexander MacWilliam as second lead vocalist (with the challenge of never having sung in a Metal band before) is Lisa Thompson who will be the one fans will be checking out to see how she shapes up on her second album. Her position isn't so much as an out and out front-woman but instead sitting comfortably alongside, and in tandem, with MacWilliam. This was a clever move initially designed to ease her into the band and not overexpose her lack of experience, but now sees her taking a greater role than on the debut. And the combination, with the options it gives on the vocal side, works really well.

The Euro Symphonic Rock connection is strengthened with Delain's Timo Somers pitching in with a trademark solo on the single 'The Human Condition', while the album also features Brazilian-based violinist Marina Andrade. Known for her work with Santanarium, she provides violins most notably on 'Polaris' and the piano-led intro to 'Morta' – probably the most Operatic sounding piece on the record switching between the two voices as the guitars punctuate the hypnotic piano rhythm.

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It's an arrangement which crops up regularly; 'Nona' follows in a similar vein with a gentle piano showcasing Thompson, before the contrast of the darker vocals and thunderous drums and guitar. The songs do appear on the shorter side so they don't hang around and outstay their welcome – all compact and concise and it would be interesting to see if Sovereign Council have the confidence to progress into some more ambitious compositions. Not that longer is better of course, but they show the potential to shift moods and gears, with these songs essentially ticking the standard dark vocal/soft vocal/thundering bass drum/gargantuan riff boxes so after fourteen songs you may be ready for some variety.

An album with a title which offers up the suggestion that, like the galaxy it describes, is vast and with limitless boundaries, 'Laniakea' is a collection which is more epic and melodic rather than Symphonic and orchestral. It's going to be a record which has fans of Nightwish and Delain pricking up their ears as this is something along the same lines yet a little bit different.

Mike Ainscoe

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