Victoria K – Kore (Rockshots Records)Monday, 24th October 2022
It shouldn’t be surprising now to see symphonic rock/metal spreading beyond its European beginnings into a global phenomenon. That’s why you hear an act from Australia like Victoria K come into the mix – releasing a series of singles early on before a debut album Essentia hit the streets at the start of the pandemic in 2020. Unable to do many live gigs at the time to support this, they captured an ‘isolation’ concert in 2021 for a video/live album release, then set to work on a sophomore studio platter with Kore. Creating a conceptual theme from Homeric Hymns to Demeter (the story of Persephone), the band chooses to expand horizons, exploring main vocalist Victoria K’s ethnic culture/heritage. Making this nine-track outing (minus the brief “Prologue” and “Epilogue” instrumental sequences) exciting for those who love the diverse nature this style can offer, especially when musicians choose to paint their material in colorful strokes.
Often the natural electric instrumentation beyond the swirling keyboard/orchestration action has that darker, modern vibe latter day Lacuna Coil or Spiritbox followers live for, while Victoria’s melodies possess dreamy gothic allure – male growls sometimes contrasting in an evil manner. The choices for expanding arrangements midway through the record open the cultural playbook, where the heavier guitars plus penetrating drum tempos make the 7:29 “Tower” exhilarating, the shift between darker Rammstein-like groove passages and Middle Eastern musical movements mesmerizes. The exotic nature to many songs matches the lyrical storyline, when approaching things on “Mother’s Garden” from a lighter to tribal-like marching prism or ramping up the aggressive/extreme perspective during “Blasphemia”. Many will also appreciate the deep research dive of the Greek mythological story on hand – these musicians seeking out experts to get all the major (and minor) details accurate. The front half of the track list tends to contain the more compact efforts, allowing the record to unfurl in wider nuances be it industrial, gothic, or exotic, incorporating Greek language texts beyond the conventional English sung material that makes “Pomegranate” a back half favorite.
Whereas Essentia seems more like a collection of songs without a coherent direction or consistent theme, Kore illustrates the appeal of a conceptual story carried through a full-length to capture the wondrous nature of symphonic rock/metal. Victoria K straddles the commercial landscape of the genre in multiple sub-genre ways, which could extend the reach of their following.