Welcome to the first installment of Mini-Review Mondays! I started the meme on my Facebook page a few weeks ago and thought it was time to introduce it on the blog.
On Mini-Review Mondays, I’ll post a fairly short review (2 or 3 paragraphs long – short for me!) of an album I’ve recently purchased. Expect the reviews to cover the same genres of music I’ve reviewed for other sites: different styles of rock and metal, with maybe some pop or other genres thrown in here and there. Reviews will be posted as new music comes my way, so probably a few times a month instead of every Monday. I hope you’ll enjoy them!
Now, time for the first mini-review…
Ex Libris – Medea
Rating: 4.5 / 5
Before I talk about Ex Libris’ second album Medea, I should offer my thoughts on the band’s debut CD Amygdala. I liked it, though it needed time to grow on me. I admired how the Dutch progressive metal band didn’t shy away from mixing experimentation with atmosphere and soprano female vocals. It was fearless and unique, and helped set Ex Libris apart from other female-fronted metal bands as well as male-fronted progressive metal bands. Sometimes the songwriting suffered from weak melodies and jarring tempo and time signature changes. But after several spins of Amygdala, my gut feeling told me that Ex Libris had the potential to make exceptional music as soon as the next album.
Well, I should listen to my gut feeling more often. Medea blows its predecessor out of the water in every possible way. The songs, though more technical than before, flow more smoothly and thrive on stronger melodies. The production work presents Ex Libris’ music perfectly: muscular and powerful, with symphonic / atmospheric touches and occasional acoustic / folk / jazz passages. Dianne van Giersbergen sings like a woman possessed on this CD. She exudes charisma and cartwheels all over her range, gliding between operatic notes and a still-elegant “rock” voice. With her voice she paints Medea as strong yet callous, loving yet possessive, jealous and imposing. If you ever met a physical incarnation of the woman portrayed by Dianne, you wouldn’t want to mess with her.
It’s difficult to summarize everything you’ll hear on Medea. So much happens on each song because the tale of passion and calculated madness is told through the music as well as the music. My only criticisms pick on aesthetics on two songs. The spoken word segments on “Song Of Discord” aid in the storytelling but don’t match the music’s pace, and I personally prefer the details from the demo version of “Daughter Of Corinth” over the new ones on this CD’s final version. Otherwise, I see no reason why Medea won’t be one of 2014’s crown gems of female-fronted metal. Ex Libris truly excels as one of the scene’s most adventurous and inventive bands – and it’s only a matter of time before they make their well-deserved breakthrough.
Deciding whether to buy Medea from Amazon? Let me know whether you found my review helpful by clicking here and selecting either “Yes” or “No.”
Coming Soon: I’m also closing in on 40,000 words on my novel-in-progress, so I’m starting to brainstorm ideas for the next edition of “Chronicling The Craft.” In the meantime, keep checking back for other updates and articles!