XANDRIA — Neverworld's End

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XANDRIA - Neverworld's End cover
4.23 | 17 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 2012

Filed under Power Metal


1. A Prophecy of Worlds to Fall (7:23)
2. Valentine (4:11)
3. Forevermore (4:59)
4. Euphoria (4:30)
5. Blood on my Hands (4:17)
6. Soulcrusher (6:11)
7. The Dream is still Alive (4:23)
8. The Lost Elysion (5:26)
9. Call of the Wind (4:52)
10. A Thousand letters (4:18)
11. Cursed (4:10)
12. The Nomad's Crown (9:02)

Total time: 01:03:42

Bonus tracks:
13. When the Mirror Cracks (4:08)
14. The Sailor And The Sea (Exclusive USA Amazon MP3) (3:10)


- Manuela Kraller / Vocals
- Marco Heubaum / Guitars, Keyboards
- Philip Restermeier / Guitars
- Nils Middelhauve / Bass
- Gerit Lamm / Drums


- Ben Mathot / Violin
- McAlbi / Tin Whistle, Low Whistle
- Johannes Schiefner / Uillean Pipes
- Joost van den Broek / Orchestral Arrangements, Sound Design, Programmings, Keyboards
- Fredrik Forsblad / Choir
- Norbert Swoboda / Choir
- Anselm Soos / Choir
- Mani Müller / Choir
- Klaus Ackermann / Choir
- Mani Cruber / Choir
- Marc Zillmann / Choir

About this release

Released by Napalm Records.

Release dates:
Spain, Finland, Sweden: Feb 22nd 2012
Germany, Austria, Switzerland, BeNeLux and Italy: Feb 24th 2012
Rest of Europe: Feb 27th 2012
USA / Canada: Mar 6th 2012

Thanks to adg211288 for the addition


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Gothic metal and symphonic metal - the two most corset-heavy subgenres of metal - fuse in Xandria's sound and rather always have done, and new vocalist Manuela Kraller doesn't shake the boat on her first studio album with the band. Nightwish comparisons seem inevitable in any discussion of the album, and there's an extent to which the band and their label bring this on themselves (as others have noted there's a mild power metal flavouring to their brand of symphonic metal which puts me in mind of Nightwish, and for that matter the cover art for this one looks like something Nightwish would be glad to put on one of their releases). Xandria do have their own personality here - there's a bit more melancholy in the mix than I tend to hear in Nightwish - but at the same time I think they're close enough to Nightwish's style that if you particularly like or dislike Nightwish you can fairly easily guess whether you'll enjoy what Xandria have to offer.
Out of all the female fronted symphonic metal bands out there, there was one band I always managed to overlook: Xandria. This German band is most known for playing symphonic gothic metal which is more or less why I overlooked them, as I typically prefer my symphonic metal to be regular symphonic metal (like Within Temptation) or symphonic power metal (like Nightwish).

However Xandria, after a large break between albums which saw them acquire a new vocalist, released Neverworld’s End in 2012, and changed their style into symphonic power metal. I was sold by the new sound after hearing the song Valentine, which the band has made a music video for. As good as Valentine is though, if I were to rank all the songs on the album in terms of favouritism, it would be on the lower end.

The sound of the album is quite like the sound Nightwish used to play, but Xandria doesn’t directly copy the Finnish band due to Neverworld’s End having a lot more folk influence in it than Nightwish’s Oceanborn ever had. It also has a few touches I’d consider progressive. I should probably also mention it’s a better album too.

I think symphonic metal with operatic female vocals can be an acquired taste among metalheads, but I recommend everyone to give Neverworld’s End a go as the album is affair bit more aggressive guitar wise than most of the bigger names of the genre have ever been (Epica may be an exception), and it is also very epic, and most definitely one of my favourite albums of the year.
Neverworld's End is the fifth full-length album by German symphonic metal act Xandria. The 2012 album is the band’s first full-length to be released since 2007’s Salomé - the Seventh Veil and a lot has happened since then. For starters lead vocalist Lisa Middelhauve decided to leave the band to be replaced by Kerstin Bischoff, who in turn also left the band without recording with them, and Lisa returned to the fold in 2010 for live performances but never officially rejoined the band. Fronting the band now is Manuela Kraller, who has also been a member with Haggard. The rest of the Xandria line-up remains unchanged from the previous release but the sound of the band has received a substantial dose of power metal injected into it. Not to the point that their sound has moved into the same sort of symphonic power metal territory as what a band like Ancient Bards play that has more to do with the power metal genre than symphonic metal, but it comes pretty close to it.

This of course means that comparisons to Nightwish’s early material will be made, and they won’t be entirely unfounded, as there’s more than a couple of moments within Neverworld's End that bring mind to Nightwish circa Oceanborn and Wishmaster. But despite some undeniable similarities the album doesn’t come across as being a direct sound-alike, but rather the sort of album that complements those other high calibre releases of the symphonic metal genre, as that’s just what this is as well. It’s symphonic metal at its finest. We’ve got heavy guitars, fuelled by the speed of power metal, excellent use of the symphonic element to create an epic backdrop to the metal, and a flawless performance from Manuela Kraller that adds so much to the classical bombast of the sound, and in a couple of places there’s even a bit of folk thrown in for good measure, and also some surprising progressive twists. If I could only have one word to describe the album it would be ‘epic’.

Honestly I never expected to encounter a symphonic metal album in this particular vein of this sort of quality these days. It’s most definitely a genre that although I love has been feeling a bit stale, and even somewhat clichéd. Xandria impresses me immensely with Neverworld's End though. Here we have a symphonic metal band that of course is still more accessible than other metal genres such as thrash and death but doesn’t completely go into the sort of pop territory that Within Temptation do. Here we have a symphonic metal band that allows their stunning lead singer to shine without making her share the microphone with a death growler in beauty and the beast vocal style. Here we have a symphonic metal band that knows how to use their symphonic element to perfection, without allowing their riffs to take a backseat. Really there can be no high level of praise given to a symphonic metal album than what Neverworld's End deserves.

Also the album is highly consistent. There is no point in singling out any particularly tracks as highlights with an album like this because as soon as the album kicks off with A Prophecy Of Worlds To Fall what you’re getting is the same high level of material all the way through until the album ends with The Nomad's Crown. Even the slower balladry parts are as epic as the really intense and heavy stuff like Soulcrusher and don’t come over as cheesy in any way. Of course I have a few personal favourites, Soulcrusher being one of those, but Valentine, Call Of The Wind, Blood On My Hands and especially Cursed all really do something special for me.

At the end of 2011 I told myself that I should be more reserved with my review scores, but Xandria just blew that idea out of the water with Neverworld's End. The album is the perfection of a genre, and fully deserves the one score that can be associated with that. I was convinced that if any symphonic metal album of 2012 would be within this sort of level it would be Epica’s, which is due out very soon at the time of writing, but honestly Epica has already deliver a symphonic metal album of this sort of strength in Design Your Universe, so the chances of two on the trot are slim, and there’re going to have to pull something really exceptional out of the hat to top what Xandria just did. Neverworld's End comes recommended as an essential purchase. I haven’t reviewed many of this year’s albums yet, but this one is going straight to the top of my fledgling list and I can’t think of a single album due out this year that has a real chance of upsetting it.


(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven (http://metaltube.freeforums.org))

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