SYMPHONITY — King of Persia (review)

SYMPHONITY — King of Persia album cover Album · 2016 · Power Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
2/5 ·
Herbie Langhans is sure becoming one of metal's really prolific vocalists. Having already delivered some top quality singing with acts such as Sinbreed and Beyond the Bridge and also appeared on the most recent Avantasia album Ghostlights (2016), we now find him fronting the Czech symphonic power metal act Symphonity. He was actually a guest on the group's previous album Voice from the Silence (2008). It's not an uncommon practice for a singer who previously guested with a band to be invited to join full-time later, if that band suddenly finds themselves without a singer of their own. Only that's not actually what happened with Symphonity and their long-awaited second full-length album King of Persia (2016), as here we find Herbie Langhans sharing lead vocal duties with the group's existing vocalist, Olaf Hayer. Symphonity won't be the first band to add an extra vocalist to their line-up. It's actually quite a common thing these days, with bands such as Wolfchant, Coronatus (who went from two to three before going back to two) and even Gamma Ray doing it.

For some of the bands that do this, or who always used more than one full-time vocalist, the practice works. Wolfchant, to use one of my previous examples, did a great thing when they switched to two vocalists, due to using greatly different vocal styles. But it can also end up having the effect that more is actually less. Coronatus ended up with a situation where one vocalist was really overpowering and outshining the other two, to the point where it seemed that they may as well not be there. It's a similar situation that Symphonity find themselves in with King of Persia. Herbie Langhans is a great vocalist and thanks to his work with Sinbreed has already proved that his voice and style works very well in a power metal band. Since he is here, there is really no reason for Symphonity to have a second vocalist who shares the same clean singing style, which is exactly what we have with Olaf Hayer. When Herbie Langhans was paired with female vocalist Dilenya Mar in Beyond the Bridge that worked, as male and female voices are obviously quite different. But here having two clean singing male vocalists feels completely unnecessary. And every time Olaf Hayer sings it only leaves one impression, and it's an album killer: why isn't Herbie Langhans singing this part?

Though to be honest, I don't find King of Persia to be a very interesting album even if I ignore the issue in the vocal department. Symphonity's brand of symphonic power metal is listenable enough when Herbie Langhans is singing, but it's not very exciting either. Like with the majority of power metal bands, they're at their best when sticking to the tried and true fast playing style but also fall into the trap of throwing in bland and unnecessary balladry, which is an area where Symphonity trips up even worse than most as Olaf Hayer's singing on such tracks simply does not sound very good at all, making tracks such as A Farewell That Wasn't Meant To Be and Siren Call painful to get through. The tone of his voice even has a tendency to sound mournful to my ears, which is completely at odds with the lively music that power metal is supposed to be. There are better tracks of course, such as Unwelcome and the opening King of Persia title track, where we even hear some progressive influence, even though I would still prefer Herbie Langhans to sing solo. But overall the writing on the album feels completely in line with the vocals: disjointed. The album also ends rather anti-climatically with Out of this World, a short instrumental that seems to serve no purpose.

King of Persia could have been a great album for Symphonity but the only impression it leaves me with is that it's a messy release. Herbie Langhans is great and deserves all praise he can get but it's very confusing why he was brought in alongside Olaf Hayer. All the band ended up achieving was Herbie Langhans showing Olaf Hayer up and Olaf Hayer holding Herbie Langhans back. So ultimately the only thing I can recommend is to just go listen to Herbie Langhans's most recent Sinbreed offering Master Creator (2016) instead, if you're looking for new material from this great vocalist.
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adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
That's funny, because it's the last on the promo, kinda like a saving the best to last thing, but I see looking at a picture of the back cover that you're quite right.

That actually changes my view on this ever so slightly as now 'Out Of This World' doesn't feel like a lead-in to an actually quite decent finish, but a rather anti-climatic ending to the already patchy album.

I'll update my review accordingly shortly.

666sharon666 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I checked this one out for Herbie but yeah, I mostly came away disappointed in the album as a whole.

By the way, the title track is the first track, not the last.

DippoMagoo wrote:
more than 2 years ago
The sad thing is, this album was the first one Olaf Hayer has been on in 6 years, so many people were excited to hear him again, myself included, but I'm hardly the only fan who thinks he sounds far worse than usual, like his voice has almost completely given out (he sounds so much better on the three Dionysus albums especially, plus the first Symphonity album ).

That being said, I actually like the album a lot after hearing it some more, but this is exactly my type of music, so for me to "only" give it 4 stars is a sign it's not exactly the best in its genre.


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