November 1, 2018, 5 years ago

(Invictus Media)

Carl Begai

Rating: 9.0

review heavy metal season of ghosts


Season Of Ghosts rose from the ashes of vocalist Sophia Aslanides' doomed collaboration with Japanese trance metalists Blood Stain Child in 2014, releasing The Human Paradox as a strong if somewhat schizophrenic debut. Partnered with guitarist / composer Zombie Sam, the record was a memorable and sometimes bizarre mix of metal, pop and electro / trance elements, earning the project a small but loyal following of fans, many of whom accompanied Sophia from the Blood Stain Child camp or were part of Zombie Sam's own Tim Burton-fed legion of admirers. Since then, Season Of Ghosts has taken on the form of a real band, with exceptional results.

A Leap Of Faith is bookended by two instrumental passages, "The Road So Far" having the intensity of your best Nightwish intro, and "You Are Not Your Pain" as a gorgeous piano outro that would do well as a full song. Within these doors is a room containing seven trance-metal anthems with a brazen and intentional leaning towards pop metal. The vocal melodies are huge and infectious throughout, backed by guitar crunch and leads that overshadow anything on The Human Paradox. Drummer Max Buell brings a very necessary organic element to what could have become an electronic slushpile, and bassist Paul Dark Brown quite simply slays with his unexpected in-your-face delivery from beginning to end (kudos to Aslanides and the Zombie for letting him play out the way he did).

Being as Season Of Ghosts is Aslanides' baby, the songs are all vocal-centric and loaded with melody on par with Amaranthe's Elize Ryd or Within Temptation's Sharon den Adel. Stand-out tracks include the uptempo "Listen", "Almost Human", "A Place To Call Home" and 'How The Story Ends"... hell, 85% of this record is up-tempo, and the lack of a genuine ballad is refreshing. Gotta love Aslanides' vocal range and her head for harmonies, although it would have been nice to hear more of her lower register (which is the stuff of "read me the phone book" fantasies).  

The only "complaint" - and this is a matter of taste from a thrash fan's point of view - is that the guitars are too far back in the mix, which is a pity. But, in the context of the songs and the concept of showcasing Sophia's vocal talents, it makes sense. Making the guitars a prominent element would have run the risk of turning A Leap Of Faith into a wannabe Rammstein album.

If you're a fan of a band like Amaranthe, A Leap Of Faith is time well spent, and it may in fact be more appealing than the Swedes' new album, Helix, if you're looking for pop metal that doesn't rely on keyboards as a backbone.

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