Wonders – Beyond the Mirage (Limb Music)Wednesday, 21st June 2023
A five-piece hailing from Greece and Italy, Wonders contains seasoned musicians that most followers of melodic, power, or progressive metal will be familiar with. Brothers Pietro Paulo Lauesu (guitar) and Giorgio Lunesu (drums) started Even Flow in 1999, working with vocalist Marco Pastorino in that project (he also is a part of Temperance, Serenity, Fallen Sanctuary, and numerous other outfits). Add in Luca Negro (bass) also a part of the Even Flow/ Temperance lineups, plus the keyboard /production prowess of Bob Katsionis (ex-Firewind) and its easy to assume that what will be mined should be gem oriented. Beyond the Mirage is the second studio album, the follow-up to 2021’s steady debut offering The Fragments of Wonder – pushing the tempos a bit more into classic European power metal molds while accentuating tremendous vocal-harmonies/choir possibilities.
Bursting with energetic power chords and uplifting, heroic melodies, songs such as “One Million Miles” and “Coming Home” breathe comfortably in that spirit which pushed early Sonata Arctica, Edguy or Return to Heaven Denied-period Labyrinth into the hearts of ardent metalheads. Pietro’s thoughtful guitar layers navigate with varied, colorful textures – intriguing in a more AOR meets progressive prism on “Breaking the Chains”, while showcasing emotive restraint in clean to heavy momentum building for the tender ballad “All My Dreams”. All five musicians go for broke on the sixteenth-note burner “The Time of Your Life”, the bombast interplay key to hair follicles standing tall while Marco’s expressive, multi-octave pipes shine especially in those upper falsetto highlight reel moments. The purple hues and cavernous rock formations from the Bob Katsionis cover art mirror what listeners can expect in Wonders on a musical scale – plenty of hooks, melodies, neoclassical-oriented keyboard/guitar breaks, and vocal parts tailor-made for unison singalong accompaniment.
While other musicians may have laid low during the pandemic, it’s evident that for Wonders, they chose to dig deeper into their affinity for classic power metal, execute to its fullest degree, and end up with another outstanding record for Beyond the Mirage. Hopefully the band can squeeze in some future festival appearances beyond their busy schedules in other acts (or behind the scenes), as this deserves to be heard across the global stages in all its glory.