A darker symphony looms.
There are many forces in the metal market that can spur innovation, and scene saturation is arguably the most potent of them. In the particularly prominent world of female-fronted symphonic metal that has been riding a proverbial tidal wave of commercial viability has been no exception to this, particularly given that a new band taking up the mantle of Nightwish, Within Temptation or Delain seems to be cropping up every other week. The relative newcomer and Swiss act Ad Infinitum, which came into being a brief while ago in 2018 and would subsequently unleash a highly impressive variant on all 3 of the aforementioned niches within their adopted sub-genre in 2020 debut LP “Chapter I: Monarchy,” combining a compact and easily digestible songwriting formula with a mixture of dark groove metal trappings and bombastic symphonic textures, bearing some resemblance to the likes of Germany’s Beyond The Black and the slightly more obscure Dutch outfit End Of The Dream, but taking the corresponding complex to flashier and more aggressive place.
Though this highly ambitious quartet contains no slouches among its membership, the primary center of gravity proves to be their highly charismatic and versatile front woman Melissa Bonny. Originally throwing her hat into the metal ring with the independent and fantasy-based power metal band Evenmore on their 2016 debut “Last Ride,” her capability in delivering a soaring voice while expounding legendary deeds is already well established and plays well into the forceful and blustering arrangements in which this outfit deals. On the other hand, her subsequent tenure with the more extreme groove metal band Rage Of Light afforded her the opportunity to hone a harsher vocal approach in line with what one would expect from the likes of The Agonist and Arch Enemy on their 2019 debut “Imploder.” While she ended up cutting ties with both bands, each of these counterpoint vocal personas are employed to masterful effect with this project, creating a duality of beauty and anger so auspicious that it is only rivaled by the highly technical guitar solo breaks and thudding groove riffs provided by Adrian Thessenvitz.
In keeping with the powerful precedent that was set on their aforementioned debut, their sophomore effort “Chapter II: Legacy” constructs a similar scheme of structural symmetry and melodic splendor, bottled up into largely concise individual songs. The chorus hooks that emerge definitely point to a slightly increased power metal influence that parallels the middle era of Nightwish, though Bonny’s cleaner vocal work has less of an overtly dramatic operatic bent and lean closer to a mellower Simone Simons meets a slightly deeper Sharon Den Adel. On the other hand, the thudding riff work that surrounds these pristine cadence points has more of a dark groove/thrashing quality that hints at more of a Nevermore influence, with the bass work of new bassist Korbinian Benedict injecting an almost djent-like quality to some of the heavier moments encountered on here. At times, this installment feels a tad darker relative to their last album, though it also finds itself in a somewhat more epic place during some of the faster and more triumphant moments, but it largely sticks to the same general tone and feel.
The flow of this collection of songs is generally a consistent progression of balanced influences with no overt ballad-based respites or apex points. Well-rounded bangers such as the opener “Reinvented” and “Animals” see a dynamic back and forth between more atmospheric and impact-based sections, the former being a tad more guitar-centric while the latter is more densely symphonic in demeanor, both occasionally seeing Bonny switch out her lofty angelic smoothness for some more jagged moments. Slightly punchier anthems like “Into The Night” and “Your Enemy” go a bit harder on the vicious shouts and deep chugging guitar grooves, yet still ultimately maintain that infectious, triumphant character when the refrain drops. Arguably the closest thing to a climatic point to be found on here is the full on foray into early Nightwish-tinged symphonic power metal with a modern touch “Haunted”, though it gets some pretty strong competition from similarly flashy and memorable odes like the mercilessly infectious fanfare of “Unstoppable” and the heroic trappings of “Son Of Wallachia”.
For a band that is still technically in a formative state, Ad Infinitum is definitely carving out a noticeable place in the current symphonic metal scene, and it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to see them ascending to even greater heights in the coming months and years given their already prolific and quality-based output. This installment is maybe a tinge less extravagant than last year’s debut, but the two are so evenly matched and share such a clear continuity that it goes without saying that their existing fan base will be more than satisfied, whereas those who are new to them yet have an existing affinity for both the broader symphonic metal craze and some of the rougher groove and metalcore based bands out there could just as easily be roped in by it. Don’t be fooled by the uniform masked appearance and implied emphasis on the woman at the helm, this band is the full package, and those who enjoy the involved arrangements that Nightwish dabbled in while still writing proper songs in the mid-2000s and also the flashy guitar work of Jeff Loomis and Michael Amott should also give this and its 2020 predecessor a look
Released By: Napalm Records
Release Date: October 29th, 2021
Genre: Symphonic Metal
- Melissa Bonny / Vocals
- Adrian Theßenvitz / Guitars
- Niklas Müller / Drums
- Korbinian Benedict / Bass
“Chapter II: Legacy” track-listing:
- Your Enemy
- Afterlife (feat. Nils Molin)
- Into The Night
- Son Of Wallachia
- My Justice, Your Pain
Being something of a dark horse in the crowded field of symphonic metal acts that have been cropping up of late, Swiss upstarts Ad Infinitum opt to stand apart from the pack with a combination of virtuoso guitar showmanship, dark jagged edges and a pristine principle voice on their second LP in as many years