I love getting albums from bands all over the world. I also like getting symphonic power metal albums, mostly because I just don’t seem to be given many of those. Today I introduce to you ShadowIcon, a band from Slovenia whose EP Smoke & Mirrors is, as already mentioned, one of the few symphonic power metal albums I’ve ever had the chance to review. Perhaps what’s most important is how the EP doesn’t follow many cliché’s of the power metal genre which makes these six tracks unique.
Smoke & Mirrors‘ opening track (Now I See) Through A Mirror Darkly starts things off perfectly. It is as symphonic as symphonic metal could possibly be. There are comparisons to be made with fellow female fronted symphonic metal band Nightwish (in their more recent years) but I find ShadowIcon‘s approach to be a little more catchy than many of their contemporaries.
I think I enjoy the keyboard playing by ShadowIcon‘s Peter Smrdel the most on Smoke & Mirrors. I first really notice it on the intro to the slower and more melodic If I Was The One, which includes a great keyboard solo accompanied with an awesome guitar solo. Ana Prijatelj Pelhan‘s vocals standout on just about every track as well, but it’s keyboard playing like the opening to the slightly more poppy sounding The Edge that make ShadowIcon’s sound a little more unique than other symphonic metal bands.
In regards to ShadowIcon‘s ability to write songs, much like the best symphonic metal bands out there, they do an exceptional job at making sure all songs don’t sound similar to one another. Both If I Was The One and The Edge have a structure that involves acoustic guitars mixed with electric guitars, but the two songs aren’t very similar beyond that. The Beauty of a Rose is the closest thing Smoke & Mirrors has to a ballad, thanks to its very soft and heartfelt intro, but after the first minute you practically forget about that intro as the song takes a turn into a metal track as good as any other on the EP. I guess by the time you get to The Plea you might find there is nothing about the track that stands out over the others, but just like all other tracks it is a great listen with a terrific melodic sound to both its singing and instrumentation.
Smoke & Mirrors ends with a reprise of opening track (Now I See) Through A Mirror Darkly. It’s a very odd gesture on ShadowIcon‘s part seeing as how unlike other reprises, which are typically shortened versions or slightly (or not so slightly) changed versions of the song their reprising, (Now I See) Through A Mirror Darkly’s reprise is the exact same track. It merely ends Smoke & Mirrors the way it started. mean I kind of get it, it’s supposed to bring the EP full circle with one of its finer tracks played on repeat, but it just seems a little lazy.
It may be that I don’t get many symphonic power metal bands to review, but I can’t help but love ShadowIcon‘s Smoke & Mirrors. It doesn’t lack originality like I feared it may at first, and it packs a great punch with its heavy metal sound. Each song is of a high level of energy that gives your ears some exercise and the symphonic sound is top notch and very well produced. I don’t know how big ShadowIcon is in their native Slovenia, but North America could use more metal like this.
“If I Was The One” – This is the only music video/song sample I can truly provide from Smoke & Mirrors, and it just so happens to be a great track. I may have debated between the highlight being this track or (Now I See) Through A Mirror Darkly, as both display their strong sound and symphonic intentions, maybe even more so in the latter, but the decision was made a little easier by If I Was The One having a music video to show.
8.5 (Out of 10)
|1||(Now I See) Through a Mirror Darkly||ShadowIcon||5:33|
|2||If I Was the One||ShadowIcon||3:40|
|4||The Beauty of a Rose||ShadowIcon||4:52|
|6||(Now I See) Through a Mirror Darkly [Reprise]||ShadowIcon||5:33|