Whyzdom – Of Wonders and Wars (Scarlet Records)Wednesday, 29th September 2021
Receiving below average reviews over the course of the last three albums between scribes on this site, French symphonic metal act Whyzdom return for their fifth album on Of Wonders and Wars with skepticism on improving the formula displayed already. The four-piece incorporate orchestration, cinematic, and choir-oriented elements, developing from the mezzo-soprano voice of Marie Mac Leod as well as electric support to create a bombastic sound through these ten tracks. The end results continue to lie flat and uninspiring overall, mainly due to excessive bloating in terms of the arrangements, while the key components aren’t tasty or enticing enough to continually stick around for return airings.
Half of the tracks exceed six-minutes – the album front loaded with four of the lengthier efforts. Despite dramatic and versatile melodies in “Stonehenge” as an example, the prolonged cinematic/militant orchestration and choir sequence take up the first quarter of the seven-minute plus run time, making a stalling pattern for the main hooks to develop on the guitar and rhythm section angles. Most seasoned symphonic metal followers will hear obvious influences from Epica to Nightwish, Therion to Xandria when taking in specific sequences of “Ariadne” or the Middle Eastern-tinged “Pyramids” – the latter featuring a great layered approach between the keyboards, orchestration, and guitars that weave in and around the vocals evoking Egyptian mystique. Even though the acoustic guitar embellishment for the power ballad “Touch the Sky” provides that dynamic, warmer character at the right time – the struggle to develop that one killer, memorable song presents difficulty in often completing this record in one sitting – as it’s another hour-plus odyssey which can be quite common for the genre.
It’s not enough these days to possess a strong operatic voice and deliver symphonic metal with plenty of orchestration and choir enhancement. Distinction, character, and originality matter – unfortunately areas that Whyzdom have yet to fully master even five albums deep into their career.