Exit Eden – Femmes Fatales (Napalm)

Monday, 8th January 2024
Rating: 9.5/10

Glancing back all the way to 2017, Exit Eden debuted as a bonafide supergroup of powerhouse female vocalists united to sing a collection of pop songs that were turned into epic heavy metal beasts. It was a fresh and intriguing concept, and one that delivered on the hype of it’s vocalists coming together. Given that the four frontwomen had their own bands to attend to, there was never a guarantee that we’d see another release. It’s taken seven years, and Amanda Somerville had to depart, but Exit Eden has finally come back into the fray with Clémentine Delauney, Marina La Torraca, and Anna Brunner reuniting. What’s even better? Instead of just doing cover songs, they split it down the middle and came up with 6 original songs to pair up with 6 famous cover tracks.

What works best about Femmes Fatales is exactly what worked for Rhapsodies in Black. The covers are fun and interesting, reinvented for grandiose symphonic metal fireworks of the highest caliber, and the original tracks keep the same concepts in mind. The covers and originals are intertwined, and this helps keep the flow of the album. Despite having some very recognizable songs, such as Alice Cooper’s “Poison,” and Pet Shop Boys’ “It’s a Sin,” among others, the highest compliment is that the original songs never feel out of place. The opening title track began in such a spirited, adventurous way that it was actually necessary to refer back to the promo info to make sure it wasn’t a cover. The way that it thunders and demands your immediate attention, leading into a masterful, ‘shout it out loud’ chorus makes it seem like it could have been a top 100 singles type of song ‘back in the day.’ Such is the scope of every track on Femmes Fatales. “Buried in the Past” offers a slightly less frantic pacing, but the way that Brunner, La Torraca, and Delauney share the mic and blend their voices is all but divine in execution. Five of the six originals were penned by Brunner and producer Hannes Braun, with the beautifully elegant “Dying in My Dreams” being co-written by La Torraca, and it stands out for it’s power ballad-esque energy and poignant feelings. While “Run” heads in more of a fun, folk-y direction, “Hold Back Your Fear” seems to take all of the positives associated with symphonic metal and crank them up to 11 – especially the extremely potent chorus.

The covers themselves offer just as much entertainment. The aforementioned “It’s a Sin” probably stands the tallest to this writer, with it’s bouncy riffs turned into an almost gothic display, taking the track into a clever direction and allowing the energy to really be channeled into a lively direction, and Brunner’s vocals in particular stand out for their sheer power at certain points. On the more melodic side is Heart’s “Alone,” which may be significantly heavier and cinematic, but still has that same level of raw emotion to it. Already an anthem in its own right, Journey’s “Separate Ways” also shines with it’s ability to be augmented with more bombast, yet the vocals give it a more feminine energy that gives it a slightly different vibe than the original. Probably the most surprising transformation is that of Mylene Farmer’s “Desanchantée,” which goes from poppy to more boisterous and uplifting, yet still retaining the elegance of the original.

Can’t think of a better way to start off 2024 than with the return of one of the symphonic metal scene’s most intriguing supergroups. Femmes Fatales takes the Exit Eden formula and turns it into something even more special. Having powerful and thrilling original tracks to coincide with another brilliant collection of reinvented cover songs gives the group even more leverage than before. The trio of voices shine in all the right ways, complimenting each other through each track to take the potent instrumentation to the next level. Femmes Fatales should be just what Exit Eden needs to stand tall above their symphonic peers in this year to come.

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