Stream of Passion – Darker Days (Napalm Records)

Friday, 22nd March 2013
Rating: 7/10

Stream of Passion’s sophomore album The Flame Within was quite the winner, having racked up mondo points from the press (including this scribe) for its unabashed portrayal of swooning, sultry, symphonic metal. And considering the band underwent a major makeover (namely the departure of founding member Arjen Luccassen of Ayreon/Star One fame), it perhaps buoyed the band into doing something beyond their abilities. Unfortunately, Darker Days brings the band back to earth.

The focus once again is on singer Marcela Bovio (she’s easy on the eyes, too), who still has a tendency to drift off into the territory once occupied by former The Gathering siren Anneke van Giersbergen. Not this is a bad thing – Bovio hits the mark on a lot of these songs, including the high-pitched “Reborn” and “The Scarlet Mask.” Yet Bovio is without any real standout moments here, with most of her choral and harmonic choices falling relatively flat.

Keyboards are all over this thing, thus eliminating any type of brawn the album could have used. The predictable ivory tingles on “Our Cause” are easily forgettable, while “Broken” and “This Moment” fail to separate themselves from the symphonic metal pack. Plus, the album is about two or three songs too long in the tooth, which could have helped eliminate the dragging effect one starts to feel toward the end.

A band’s third album is considered a very critical mark in one’s career, and it’s not like Stream of Passion don’t have a leg to stand on – they simply didn’t hit the mark on Darker Days. Yet this shouldn’t stop anyone from having a gander at Bovio and checking out The Flame Within or the band’s video for “Out In the Real World,” which totally rocks.

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