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Aria Flame - A World of Silence

Aria Flame - CD Review
A World of Silence

Aria Flame

CD Info
6 tracks
English lyrics
Self Released


There haven’t been a lot of American bands at MFVF. Benedictum has performed, Holy Hell, Operatika appeared once (they’re actually more Ukrainian / Russian) but the list is a short one. Aria Flame will be there this year, and they’ll be carrying the American banner. And if the present release is any indication, they’ll be doing it with style. The main drawing card here is Aziza Poggi, an intriguing lady of Egyptian lineage. I’ve known Aziza a little over the years, I’m also friends with drummer Erik Sales so I know a little about the band and have for some time. Fact, we have a date at a festival here in Wisconsin in October, my first time to actually hear the band live after several attempts. After listening to this EP I’m looking forward to it even more. In a word, this is killer material, maybe the best American production I’ve ever heard. And on a par with the best material in the genre anywhere in the world. Yea, it’s a 10/11, no problem.

There’s a lot to talk about with this one, musically and lyrically of course, but this band has a LOT of connections and I can’t help but comment on them a little. They cover a lot of territory, have a lot of interactions within this business. It all starts with Aziza. She’s a quiet lady based on my previous interactions with her. But, people know her. She studied under one of the great ones, Melissa Ferlaak. That’s a pedigree that is hard to ignore. And the vocal she demonstrates on this release pretty much confirms that she was paying close attention to the master. That vocal is as good as it gets in this genre. And Aziza multitasks. She has a line of products . . Aziza World Fragrances, LLC . . that tie into her other interests and, based on what I’ve heard, are all top notch. But, there are other tie ins. The band’s set in Belgium will be augmented by some of my absolute favorite musicians. Joop De Rooij, formerly the keyboard player for Magion, one of my all time favorite bands will handle keyboards on that occasion. And Aziza won’t be the only female vocalist on stage for that set. She’ll be joined by three of America’s best, Grace Meridan from Chicago, Kassandra Novell from here in Wisconsin and Sabrina Cruz from Seven Kingdoms in Florida. And finally, the art work on this release is done by someone else with a tie in to MFVF, Helcanen Val. I think we all know who she is.

Aziza, who is largely responsible for most of the material on this release, has talked a little about how it came to be. She doesn’t give chapter and verse but she provides some interesting background on the bands’s website. So checking that out will provide some introduction to the thoughts expressed on the release. The music, however, does need a bit of clarification. You get some fine symphonic components but, at this point, Aria Flame doesn’t have a keyboard player. They had a lovely blond, Alicia, but Aziza tells me her business interests in Michigan became too much of an interference so she has left the band. I’m guessing that guitarist Daniel Cruzan is providing the sample work for performances in the immediate future, until Joop the King shows up to provide his expertise at Oktoberhallen. Not sure how they pulled that one off but trust me, Joop is as good as anyone, that performance will be something to see, and hear. Just watch out for him at the Ibis.

The 6 tracks cover some interesting territory. The band is solid, the symphonics fill in where appropriate, but its all there to showcase one of the finer vocalists in the genre. Aziza’s former band, Dendura, was intended to showcase an Egyptian approach to the music. There’s not an overt attempt to do that here, but, if you listen closely, there’s still some of that apparent, at least within some tracks. And, I’m guessing you have to be an Egyptian to provide that kind of thing. The release begins with My Muse and we get straight to business. My friend Erik kicks off the drums and we get straight to the killer vocals. I hate to spend too much time complementing friends but those drums are solid, all the way through. As are the guitars which sometimes do background material while kicking down the walls on other tracks. But the vocals are what capture your attention at first, at least until you get use to them and begin to focus on the rest of the musical work. The lyrics tell us we will be traveling an interesting road:

My prince of darkness / Protecting my shattered life
When all those wolves come to haunt me
And surround me at night
Like a pretty poison you please and then you kill
Protecting me from the vengeful / But destroying my sanity

My Muse may be my favorite track on the release. The vocals take us to places where emotion and pain unite, where only the top vocalists can begin to describe the terrain. But other tracks take that same voice to provide a ride that is based on different emotions. Realm of Hate takes us to a place where hate and remorse seem to coexist. Reminds me of someone I knew, Ronnie van Zant, may his soul rest in peace, who could take us in multiple directions within just a few lyrics. Here, the track begins with that Egyptian sound I talked about, provided by keys and moving to the metal. But Aziza uses that voice to express multiple emotions, taking us to solid soprano vocals at the top of the register. The song begins in remorse:

Lay down for a while / Close your eyes my dear child
Let your dreams rid of the pain / When you awake you’ll no longer weep

But, as the track moves forward, the metal takes us in a tangental direction. We no longer feel the remorse, we move into a more pronounced feeling of personal strength. The guitars reinforce this emotion, they pound in a way that can only reinforce the lyric:

I’ve awakened from this slumber / Sprung from the hatred, your desires
Let my dreams guide me to the gate / When I awake I'll no longer hate
Hate X2

The remaining tracks seem to capture this excellence of musical form and vocal theatrics. It’s a roller coaster of emotion, a side trip into musical nirvana that can only serve to entertain on multiple levels. The title track is completely different from the previous two. There’s a carnival feel to it. You get the feeling the band is laughing at reality while Aziza takes us on a magic carpet ride of sound. Her vocals go from the harsh metal to the pure opera, one gets the feeling that the band is guiding us through a place where the innocent are forbidden while the insane are placed on a pedestal. Here again, we get some guitar based metal to remind us that this is still something we should be comfortable with, but as the vocals return, we are reminded that reality is often over rated, that the mirrors may reflect more than what we see at first glance.

There are occasions when we are taken in directions we have trouble understanding. My Own Little Hell provides us with a tour of something we rarely expect from an American sound. The darkness is profound. Aziza’s vocal wails in the true tradition of Gothic vocalist from the darkest regions of the genre. I just don’t expect this from an American band. Lyrically, the lady says:

My blood pours out like a river / My roses are black
my thorns rips apart my skin

the heavens are crying for me / as hell drags me down
I'm in my own little hell / Living alone, I’m all alone in fear

There's a guitar section in this one that reminds us that ‘muricans can damn sure crank an axe.

It’s not often we have an American release that can compete with the best from Western Europe. . .or Eastern Europe. This one can. And, you’ll get proof soon, Oktoberhallen will be validation. But, if you can’t be there, this EP will be the next best thing.