Friday, June 14, 2024

Review: WHYZDOM – Symphony for a Hopeless God

The name WHYZDOM evokes (for me anyway) the disappointing 1978 American musical based on the Wizard of Oz. It is a strange choice of name for a symphonic metal project.

Paris (France) based WHYZDOM promises a great orchestra, with a massive symphonic choir. Powerful riffs and lovely melodies – with a female voice that is clear and passionate. You get all that for your money.

Like all ‘orchestras’ this seems to have a revolving door policy when it comes to hiring. Founded by guitarist Vynce Leff in 2007. The band released their ‘Daughter of the Night’ (EP) in 2008 and went on the road with Delain during 2009. During the history of the band Clémentine Delauney [Serenity] Telya Melane [Elferya] and Lisa Middelhauve [Xandria] have all been replaced as lead singer. Then Elvyne Lorient joined for the ‘Blind’ album before being replaced, herself, by the [Entropia] lead singer Marie Rouyer. Marie has worked on the recording of Symphony for a Hopeless God.

Possibly (highly likely, actually) we are all looking for something ‘new’ from our symphonic metal heroines. We need that shot of motivation, arousal and reward that only a warrior-like Valkyrie can provide. She must be powerful, radiant and supernatural. But also vulnerable, trembling, dewy-eyed and deep-valleyed. Although her voice should rise and grow without restriction, she must complete and complement the battle-royale imagery in the background – she must never try to supplant or suppress it. In Marie Rouyer we have found what we’re looking for.  Half-wolf and half-crow, her voice is as pliable as the flesh from which it comes – and her soul flies high, in search of redemption.

Symphony For A Hopeless God starts with ‘While The Witches Burn’ and the rat-a-tat of the guardian drums followed by the clang of town bells to announce the miserable procession. In line are thunderous riffs and big horn notes. Almost like elephants trumpeting. The voice is intimate and compelling. The choir nags at the sleeves. Then the vowels from the main voice spiral  and glide gracefully around the hard alabaster framework – like sheer fabric slipping from cold skin. And by the way, you might notice that some of the woo-wooing sounds a lot like “I Feel Love” [Donna Summer.]

WHYZDOM

(Almost) the title track: ‘Tears Of A Hopeless God’ has an edge of hopelessness. Tragedy and pain lives in every nook. But the chidren’s carillon emblem brings with it a small puncture of hope and light in the wall of darkness and adversity. Here and there rusky and oafish Male Voices drone-on (reminding us of Orff.) The drum-work is spectacular and the guitars drive the thing along. When the main voice enters from the shadows it has a tick-tock personality. As if it belongs to a puppet. This is a smart idea. We are all manipulated and controlled (although we think that we are not.) Without getting into a whole theological argument about Predestination – I think we can all at least agree on some limits to human free will. For example, we live and we die. Time is our master. And we exist within a body that is deteriorating. Our physical body often limits our ambitions and becomes a controlling factor. So we find that we cannot completely disconnect the marionette strings and become truly ‘free’. The chorus on this track is comforting and familiar. And it will help us to aspire to more.  I’m not entirely sure if the voice of Marie stretches far-enough … right out to the edges of the horizon. She seems more confident in the lower tones.

Forgive me, but I don’t know much about ‘Eve’s Last Daughter’. In mythology she is recognised by a moon-shaped birthmark. It is said that her appearance will be a sign that the human race is about to die. At the opening of this song, that velvety and plummy voice echoes through an empty cathedral. There is darkness in the crypts and dangerous shadows in the buttresses. There is danger behind every pew. The main line is chatty and questioning. But the high-points are those operatically lofty moments. And there is so much going on here. Tubular bells, neatly pressed drums and whining synths. This song will stand several plays – and will still not entirely give-away all its secrets. This is a truly remarkable track.

In Greek mythology Pandora is the ‘Eve’ character i.e. the first woman and the birth-giver. The final track explores ‘Pandora’s Tears.’  The sadness of Pandora is that she is forever questioning: Why is there so much evil in the world? Pandora feels eternally responsible. This song has those wonderfully majestic satin vocals and also a particularly articulate and ribbony guitar solo.

This album is powerful, erotic and eloquent. Marie’s mature voice and the creative orchestration work well together – neither seem ridiculously exaggerated or excessive. And that is the true mark of genius. This is a truly ornate piece. With intriguing depths and many subtle curves. Take the time to listen. And to reflect.

Neil Mach
Neil Mach
RAMzine Senior Writer - With a career spanning 30 years author / journalist Neil Mach is an expert on the music business and is a reliable guide. He especially loves heavy metal, prog & blues.

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